Bend-La Pine Schools’ families,
I am deeply saddened to hear of the school shooting that took place today in a small town in Texas. Nothing shakes us to the core like violence against our school children, the most innocent and vulnerable amongst us, particularly in a place where they are supposed to be safe without question – their school. This should not be happening and it makes me sick to see this again.
I recognize that news such as this can be shocking and can deeply affect our school communities. Please reach out to your school if you feel you or your family could use some extra support at this time. We are here to help as best we can.
For those students who need support, we want to share some vetted resources for families. The American School Counselor Association offers the following guidelines for helping students after a school shooting:
- Try to keep routines as normal as possible. Kids gain security from the predictability of routine, including attending school.
- Limit exposure to television and the news.
- Be honest with kids and share with them as much information as they are developmentally able to handle.
- Listen to kids’ fears and concerns.
- Reassure kids that the world is a good place to be, but that there are people who do bad things.
- Parents and adults need to first deal with and assess their own responses to crisis and stress.
- Rebuild and reaffirm attachments and relationships.
In addition, here is a resource from the National Association of School Psychologists that you may find helpful in talking about these tragedies at home: Talking about Violence.
I wanted to take this opportunity not only to share our sincerest sympathies with those impacted, but also to remind all of us about all we have in place to deal with emergency situations.
Here, school safety is addressed through a comprehensive approach that focuses on planning, prevention, intervention and response. We ensure that students have access and awareness of the ways that they can report anything – or anyone – that they feel threatens their safety (SafeOregon tipline, talking to trusted adults, calling 9-1-1, etc.) We have very strong partnerships with our law enforcement and emergency services providers and conduct regular drills on how we would respond if an incident took place in our schools. (See our Emergency Preparedness webpage for details.) Our school staff members strive every day to keep our schools physically and psychologically safe places that foster a sense of belonging and community in our schools.
I am sure that you, like me, are trying to make sense of this horrific tragedy. We are searching for the words to help our children feel safe and resilient in a world that feels unpredictable and scary. My advice is to hug your children and tell them you love them. My thoughts are with the students, staff, and families of Robb Elementary School.
Dr. Steven Cook