Albemarle Co. Schools to Address Safety Concerns after Conn. Shooting

December 16, 2012

In the aftermath of the tragic shooting at a Connecticut elementary school, Albemarle County Public Schools are reminding parents that safety is one of the organization's top priorities.

In an email sent to parents, superintendent Pam Moran outlined the school system's goals for when children return to the classrooms on Monday morning.

The goals include emphasizing resources and relationships children have in the schools to a review of the security, emergency and crisis plans in place.

"We all can help children through reassuring dialogue," Moran said in the email. "We want to be sure our children know basic personal safety measures and where to go for additional help when necessary."

Moran says that while safety drills can never be "routine," the schools' faculty and staff are trained to handle unexpected events.


Dear Albemarle County Public Schools Families and Colleagues:

The recent events in Newtown, Connecticut, have saddened and shaken us all. As a parent, I grieve for the families and the community of Newtown. As an educator, I know the worry and concern that such a tragedy sends throughout every school community. Nothing will ever be more important than the safety and security of our students and staff. Every day our focus is on ensuring that our children are learning in a safe environment. Safety will continue to be our top priority.

I know the thoughts of the entire Albemarle County Public Schools community are with the families of Newtown who are grieving. We also know that communicating with children in the aftermath of tragedy can be a difficult process. We respect that families are dealing with this situation in different ways. Our goal for tomorrow is to meet children where they are in terms of knowledge and concern and to continue to emphasize the importance of relationships to support children. These positive relationships will be the basis for our work tomorrow---from your child’s first greeting from a bus driver or teacher to the closing conversations of the school day.

Our work tomorrow also will be driven by attention to the security, emergency, and crisis plans every school has in place. These plans and our facilities are audited on an ongoing basis. All staff and students receive training and practice drills to enact our plans. While these procedures seem second-nature to us now, they have a serious purpose. Further, through our partnerships with the Albemarle County Police and other first responders, we conduct training and drills to ensure our plans are continually updated and effective.

While safety can never be “routine,” our teachers are well-trained to provide a sense of consistency to our children’s learning environment. Additionally, school counselors and psychologists are well-qualified to assist our staff and students in dealing with difficult issues. They will be available tomorrow to help students or staff cope with the emotions and feelings that naturally occur following such a tragedy. Please use the link below for advice from the National Association of School Psychologists.

Communication is imperative. We all can help children through reassuring dialogue. We want to be sure our children know basic personal safety measures and where to go for additional help when necessary. Let them know our school counselors have an open door policy and always are available to help. If you have questions or concerns, please contact your school’s principal or call central office staff at 296-5820. For those of you who may not have received this message directly, please take this opportunity to contact your school to be sure your e-mail address is correct in our database.

Pam Moran
Albemarle County Public Schools

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