Dear Families, Staff, and Community Members,
We are deeply saddened to hear the news of the school shooting today at a Texas elementary school and the tremendous loss to the Uvalde community. I want to assure you that the safety of our students is our top priority and that our schools have a comprehensive safety plan in place that is reviewed and updated annually in partnership with the Winnetka Police and Fire Departments.
We anticipate that there will be extensive news coverage about the incident in the coming days. In the wake of the event, we know your child(ren) may have questions. In order to support you, we are sharing recommendations from the National Association of School Psychologists on how to best talk to children about violent acts.
The resource advises parents or caregivers to find out if their children know about the event and suggests the following:
Reassure children that they are safe, and we work together to make school a safe place.
Make time to talk. Keep your explanations calm and developmentally appropriate (see article for details).
Avoid graphic details and exposure to media when possible. It is best to share basic information in a straightforward and direct manner. Limit social media and television viewing.
Review safety protocols and remind children they have safe adults to turn to at home and at school.
Maintain a typical routine and be mindful of changes in behavior, appetite, and sleep patterns, which can indicate a child’s level of anxiety or discomfort.
We hope this list is helpful to you as you navigate potential questions regarding this incident at home.
While we will not set aside time in our classrooms for lengthy discussions, we will allow conversations to develop naturally. If students bring up the event, we will acknowledge the situation, validate their feelings, and move them back to the topic of study. The student support teams in each of our schools, including School Social Workers and Psychologists, will be available to students who may need support to cope with this tragedy. Our teachers are prepared to reach out to members of the team if a student seems to need additional support.
Again, our hearts are with the Uvalde community tonight as they grieve the tremendous loss.
Dr. Trisha Kocanda