An Open Letter to Families About the Tragedy in ConnecticutDear MCAS Families:
Our heartfelt condolences go out to all those touched by the tragic elementary school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. Many innocent children and courageous educators lost their lives in a senseless act that has torn a community and this nation apart.
We take our responsibility for the safety and security of our students very seriously. All Michigan City Area Schools have comprehensive crisis plans, and Crisis Teams meet regularly at the school and district level. We conduct safety drills to ensure that all students and staff are familiar with emergency procedures and safe locations. We also work very closely with local law enforcement officials to bolster our security measures. I have asked all school principals to review these procedures carefully again with their building Crisis Teams and staffs, in light of the recent tragedy in Connecticut.
We appreciate the support of our parents and community in reporting any safety concerns that you observe or become aware of. All school entrances are locked at all times, and your patience is needed as we screen every visitor. Please remember that no one should be let in as you are exiting or entering our buildings unless approved by office staff.
We are deeply saddened by this terrible event and know that your children may be impacted emotionally as well. The American Psychological Association (APA) and the National Association of School Psychologists offer several resources and tips on their websites. Listed below are a few of their recommendations for your consideration.
1. Talk with your child regarding their worries or concerns. This is a first step to help them feel safe and cope with recent events.
2. Watch for signs of stress, fear, or anxiety.
3. Reassure your child that their school and home are safe.
4. Limit the amount of time spent watching news of the tragedy, as constant exposure may heighten their anxiety.
5. Keep explanations developmentally appropriate. Elementary students need brief, simple information that is balanced with reassurances. Allow middle and high school students the opportunity to express opinions and suggestions. Emphasize the role that students have in maintaining safe schools.
6. Review safety procedures and safeguards at home.
Please keep the community of Newtown in your thoughts and prayers.
Sincerely,Dr. Barbara Eason-Watkins
Resources you may find helpful:
Talking to Children About Violence (.pdf format)
National Association of School Psychologists: http://www.nasponline.org/
American Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org/school-shooting.aspx
How You Can Help
The Michigan City Police Department recommends the following two options for those who are interested in making a donation to assist victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy:
- The United Way has started the Sandy Hook School Support Fund to provide help with funeral expenses, counseling and other services. Donations: Sandy Hook School Support Fund, c/o Newtown Savings Bank, 39 Main St., Newtown, Conn. 06470. More information: https://newtown.uwwesternct.org.
- The Sandy Hook Elementary School Victims Relief Fund has raised more than $73,750. The school PTA will administer the fund, which will provide counseling to survivors, pay for funeral expenses for victims, create a scholarship fund for the school's students and fund a memorial. Donations: Newtown Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 596, Botsford, Conn. 06404 or http://newtownmemorialfund.org.