Forest Park school principals met Monday with staff to review safety procedures for the district as students and teachers returned to school for the first day after the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook school shootings in Newtown, CT.
Throughout the district on Friday teachers and principals made the choice to let parents explain the shootings to their own children. Betsy Ross Principal William Milnamow sent an email to parents Friday afternoon to tell them the situation.
“While it is inappropriate for the staff to discuss this with our students at this time, it is inevitable that your children will hear this news or see the sad pictures as the day unfolded,” Milnamow wrote to parents. “I caution you to be aware of what they are seeing and hearing and I urge you to assure them of your love and their safety,” he continued.
The letter attached a link to the American Psychological Association page called “Helping children manage distress in the aftermath of a shooting.”
“I took a look at the resources they sent and I said, this is exactly right,” said Betsy Ross School mother Jamie Connelly on Saturday. Connelly is a social worker.
Monday the district posted links to other resources for children and parents on the Forest Park School District 91 website.
Superintendent Lou Cavallo issued a statement saying that the schools would be discussing current safety plans in upcoming months “to ensure we are doing every reasonable and rational thing possible to ensure the safety of our children.”
Cavallo said in his letter that the fear of a school shooting happening anywhere – including our [Forest Park] schools” – was a natural response, and a fear he shared.
“The thing that angers me most…. is that we, as a nation, seem to have accepted that violence in the schools is a possibility,” Cavallo wrote. “I am outraged that it has come to this.”
“Please hold your children tight and keep the community of Newtown in your thoughts and prayers,” continued Cavallo.