Once again our nation is experiencing a tragic incidence of school violence. I know that our collective thoughts and prayers are with the students, staff and citizens of Parkland, Florida. Our commitment to provide a safe environment for our students and staff remains a daily priority. Many of these unfortunate tragedies underscore the importance of all of us staying connected with students to understand any possible emotional trauma that they may be experiencing and to provide students and families with as much support as possible. We are sometimes asked if we discuss tragic mass casualty incidents with our students. Our general practice has been to not enter into discussions with students in elementary grades, but if a question arises, it is important to reassure children that they are safe and validate their feelings. We feel that it
is more appropriate for parents to answer a child's question in the context of a loving family connection.
More questions about tragic incidents my arise at the upper grade levels. It is important for us to carefully listen to students and emphasize that we are a caring school community and everyone has an important role in maintaining a safe school environment. There are a number of resources to help school personnel and you conduct a discussion about school-related tragedies with your child. The National Association of School Psychologists has published: "Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers".
This is another very difficult tragedy to comprehend and it requires loving, emotional support for our children. If your child is experiencing any difficulty with this school tragedy, please contact school personnel to discuss it, and we will make every effort to provide assistance.
Everett V. Olsen, Jr.
Westford Public Schools
23 Depot Street
Westford, MA 01886