Brian Osborne, Superintendent, released on Sunday a letter to the South Orange - Maplewood School District and families:
South Orange Maplewood School Community,
The tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, has shaken all of us. We continue to grieve, along with the rest of the nation, for the families impacted by this senseless violence.
Whether you have discussed the event with your children or not, they are likely to hear about it from other students on the bus, walk to school, or playground. We therefore suggest that you consider sharing information about the tragedy with your children, in a way that feels comfortable for you, before they return to school. Some possible talking points are included below.
We have prepared developmentally appropriate plans to support elementary students when they return to school on Monday:
- Teachers will maintain the daily class routine, to provide a feeling of normalcy.
- Teachers will avoid dwelling on details of the event, and focus instead on providing support and tools for coping with sad events.
- K-2 teachers will not raise the topic, but if students bring up questions, will listen and gently redirect to a discussion of what you can do when you feel sad or worried.
- 3-5 Teachers will have brief class meetings to provide students with a forum to talk and get support in a structured, safe environment. These meetings will focus on coping skills and school safety, not on the specific details of the event.
- Teachers will identify any students who are experiencing anxiety, and follow up with them privately.
- Social workers are available to offer additional support to any students who are experiencing anxiety. If you think your child needs this support, please let your teacher know.
Guidance counselors and social workers are available to offer additional support to any secondary students who are experiencing anxiety. Please contact the guidance department if your son or daughter needs support this week.
In addition, every SOMSD parent should be reassured that student and staff safety is our highest priority. Security procedures are established for all schools – schools are locked, unauthorized visitors are prohibited, and cameras monitor all who enter our buildings. We coordinate our approach to school safety with the Police Departments of South Orange and Maplewood, regularly practice and review procedures, and revise as necessary. We are confident that we have appropriate safety measures in place to protect our schools.
We value your ongoing support and assistance as we all work together to protect and nurture our precious children.
Brian G. Osborne, Ed.D.
Possible Talking Points:
- You may hear (have heard) people talking about a very sad event that happened at a school in Connecticut.
- School is a very safe place. Sometimes bad things do happen, but this is incredibly rare.
- There are many things in place to keep us safe at school and in our community.
- We are part of a community, and when sad things happen, we can do things together to feel better.
- It is important to talk about our feelings, and if you feel like you need to talk about yours, tell your teacher, principal, guidance counselor, or school social worker.