The horrific tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday is especially troubling to those of us who dedicate our lives to children. We grieve for the families of the 20 schoolchildren and six educators who lost their lives and feel compassion for the students and staff who witnessed this event. We are humbled by the heroism of the Sandy Hook educators who sought to shield their students from harm, which in some instances cost them their own lives.
As school resumes today, it is important to offer solace and support to your colleagues so we can be strong enough to take care of our students. If children want to talk about what happened, schools should provide a safe place to have those conversations. Please avail yourself to your school's guidance counselors, school social workers, or school psychologists, who can offer guidance for supporting our students and staff.
In addition, resources are posted on the Principals’ Portal as well as on the Guidance and Teacher pages on the DOE web site. You can also refer to the University of Maryland's Center for School Mental Health resources for dealing with traumatic events in schools. Especially in the days ahead, please be sure to take care of yourself, and be watchful for signs of stress, fear, or anxiety in your students. As necessary, please alert the mental health professionals in your school who can assist those in need.
We are also asking every school community to review their visitor control procedures as well as the General Response Protocols, which cover shelter-in, lockdowns, and evacuations.
The Department of Education, the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, and the United Federation of Teachers are working together to make sure that our schools are safe and that staff and students have the support they need to move forward following this tragic event.
Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Sandy Hook Elementary School community.
Dennis M. Walcott