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School Safety Identification and Response
School Safety Identification and Response
Dan Cox
Tuesday, February 20, 2018

School safety is a top priority for us at Staunton Schools. To that end, there are no words to fully reflect the pain and sadness we feel from the tragic events of what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School yesterday. Their community continues to be in our thoughts and prayers as they recover.

While there is no plan that can totally prevent random acts of violence, our district has plans and procedures in place in order to respond to emergency situations.  During these times we review our emergency plans and responses. We request for the Staunton Police Dept. and our teachers to be even more visible and available to talk with our students.  Relationships, identification, and response continue to be our best form of prevention. 

As part of our school family, you too are an important piece of our safety plan. We rely on you and your children to report suspicious and concerning behavior to school officials and/or local authorities so that proper risk assessments and responses can be put into place. Following are additional tips from the National Association of School Psychologists for helping your children cope with news such as this.

What Parents Can Do:

  1. Focus on your children over the week following the tragedy.  Tell them you love them and everything will be okay. Try to help them understand what has happened, keeping in mind their developmental level.
  2. Make time to talk with your children.  Remember if you do not talk to your children about this incident someone else will. Take some time and determine what you wish to say.
  3. Stay close to your children. Your physical presence will reassure them and give you the opportunity to monitor their reaction. Many children will want actual physical contact.  Give plenty of hugs.  Let them sit close to you, and make sure to take extra time at bedtime to cuddle and to reassure them that they are loved and safe. 
  4. Limit your child’s television viewing of these events.  If they must watch, watch with them for a brief time; then turn the set off.  Don’t sit mesmerized re-watching the same events over and over again.
  5. Maintain a “normal” routine. To the extent possible stick to your family’s normal routine for dinner, homework, chores, bedtime, etc., but don’t be inflexible.  Children may have a hard time concentrating on schoolwork or falling asleep at night.
  6. Spend extra time reading or playing quiet games with your children before bed.  These activities are calming, foster a sense of closeness and security, and reinforce a sense of normalcy. Spend more time tucking them in.  Let them sleep with a light on if they ask for it.
  7. Safeguard your children’s physical health.  Stress can take a physical toll on children as well as adults.  Make sure your children get appropriate sleep, exercise, and nutrition.
  8. Consider praying or thinking hopeful thoughts for the victims and their families.  It may be a good time to take your children to your place of worship, write a poem, or draw a picture to help your child express their feelings and feel that they are somehow supporting the victims and their families.
  9. Find out what resources your school has in place to help children cope.  Most schools are likely to be open and often are a good place for children to regain a sense of normalcy.  Being with their friends and teachers can help.  Schools should also have a plan for making counseling available to children and adults who need it. 

In coming days and weeks we will be taking more action steps to improve upon our identification and response plans. We will be reaching out to you for your input and feedback. Until then, please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to discuss these issues in more detail.