No doubt, you went to bed last night agonizing about the news broadcasts about the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Our deepest sympathy and hearts are with the CHILDREN, PARENTS, families, teachers, and entire community experiencing this tragedy. When events like this happen, it can strike a chord in us that goes deeper than just knowing there’s not any credible threat to our school community. These are raw and valid feelings that parents, children and teachers may be experiencing.
AT SCHOOL TODAY
- Morning Assembly: We did point out to the students at Morning Assembly that the flag will be halfway down through Saturday. We used brief, simple terms, saying that this is a way we show our support for people in our country, far away from us, who are very sad.
- Morning Meeting: During Morning Meeting, especially in upper elementary classrooms, we provided space for children to share what they have heard and ask questions. Throughout the day and week, if elementary students ask questions, we will continue to answer them honestly, following the guidelines and rules of thumb below.
While violence and death are incredibly sensitive topics that each family will ultimately decide to address in their own way, we wanted to share some information and resources that we utilize as educators in deciding how to talk to children when they have questions.
ENGAGING IN DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS
How do we reassure children that they are safe, while still being honest with them about what happened? We've compiled some resources that we hope can support these kinds of conversations
- The Child Mind Institute's Recommendations for Going Back to School After a Tragedy
- The Child Mind Institute's Video on Caring for Kids After a Traumatic Event
- The Anti-Defamation League's Guide to Talking with Older Children about Gun Violence
- The National Association of School Psychologists Guide to Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers
RULES OF THUMB
- First and foremost, a rule of thumb for parents and teachers when discussing any mature topic, whether it has to do with school safety or puberty or peer pressure, is to follow the child’s lead.
- Don’t avoid talking to your child about what happened. If you avoid the topic, your child may find the event even more threatening or think it is simply too horrible to speak about.
- Invite your child to tell you how s/he feels, but avoid leading questions, such as “Are you worried about being safe at school?”
- Answer the questions they’re asking honestly but reassuringly, but don’t delve deeper into the topic than they take it. Give children the facts they need to know now, but avoid discussing your fears or anxiety about the future.
- Correct any inaccurate information: If your child has misconceptions or inaccurate information, correct them in a simple age-appropriate way.
- Reinforcing safety is important with very young children. Emphasize that the incident happened very far away from us and let your child know that we have wonderful people who are doing everything they can to make school a safe place for learning and having fun with friends and classmates.
- Stay calm and use “emotional self-control” when talking about this topic. The emotions you express will influence your child’s feelings. If you are feeling emotional, it’s better to STOP and take some time to get more regulated and think about what you want to say to your child.
SCHOOL SAFETY PLANS
At times like this, parents often have questions about school security and safety. Here are some of the steps we have taken and are taking to ensure the continued safety of our community.
- PARTNERSHIP: We are part of a School Safety Task Force with LAPD Topanga Division. As part of the task force, we have a direct line of communication with the Senior Lead Officers, which enables us to work together quickly and efficiently on threat assessments, investigations, and any other safety concerns that may arise.
- PLANS & PRACTICE: Our school has an approved School Safety Plan. School safety encompasses multiple domains within the school environment that must be reviewed altogether when assessing the level of safety for students and staff. All students and staff participate in safety drills to test their preparedness and understand their roles and responsibilities in the event of a crisis. Our most recent practice event was May 10, 2022, with all students and staff. We will also be working with the School Safety Task Force to determine what additional lessons, plans, or training we can glean from this most recent tragedy. Note: WHPS does not conduct high intensity lockdown drills.
- TRAINING: Our administration is in regular communication with our LAPD Senior Lead Officers, and we are discussing the latest information about school safety to maintain comprehensive plans for preventing and responding to threats. In addition, we have hosted training for other school directors in the San Fernando Valley.
- COMMUNICATION & MONITORING: We take every piece of information and every concern seriously. Parents, we ask you to continue to report anything you see, hear, or sense that could affect student, staff or school safety. In addition, we closely monitor the school grounds through our closed circuit camera system.
Our administration team understands that this is an emotional and tricky topic to broach with children. If you have questions, concerns or other feedback, please don’t hesitate to speak with me or anyone on our administration team. It is incredibly important to us that ALL children and families feel supported as we process this most recent tragedy.
In sadness and solidarity with the Robb Elementary School community.
Head of School