.

Updated: Sandy Hook Shooting Prompts Increased Police Presence at Woodbury Schools

Lee Vague, Woodbury Public Safety chief, reached out to area schools to ask what could be done in the wake of the massacre in Connecticut.

Woodbury parents might have noticed police standing outside their child’s school Monday morning.

Public Safety Chief Lee Vague reached out to local public and private schools following the shooting in Newtown, Conn., to ask what police here could do, said Michelle Okada, police spokeswoman.

The additional police presence was meant to “help families and kids feel safe as they transition back from a tragic event,” Okada said.

Police were set to monitor things at the start and end of the school day, she said. One or two officers were assigned to each school.

There is no definite timeframe for how long officers will be stationed at the schools, and there will be additional dialogue between police and school officials this week, Okada said.

Already Monday morning, the Woodbury Public Safety Department had received notes of thanks from residents for the effort, Okada said.

       Get the latest updates on the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School from Newtown Patch.

Okada said police and schools have a “very strong relationship,” and the department lends its support and expertise during exercises and drills.

“We try to be proactive,” she said.

Standing outside Red Rock Elementary this morning, Principal Andrew Caflisch said he appreciated the extra police presence.

The situation in Connecticut “gives us all the opportunity to look at practices and procedures we have in place,” Caflisch said.

Ultimately, police were trying to provide some “security and comfort” as students go back to school this week, Okada said.

School Statements

Several notices were sent out Sunday and Monday regarding safety at local schools. See: Newtown School Shooting: Resources for Parents via Principal of Woodbury's Bailey Elementary

Julie Nielsen, principal at Middleton Elementary, also sent out information on talking to children about violence (see the PDF with this post).

Below are notices sent out via listserv announcements from area schools.

Mike Moore, Liberty Ridge Elementary principal

Good afternoon Liberty Ridge parents,

I wanted to let you know that we have had a great day at school today. The staff was well prepared to support students in any way possible. Friday’s events were not addressed in the classroom unless a student brought up the issue. If you are coming up to Liberty Ridge this week, you might also see a stronger police presence on school grounds at the beginning and end of the day. Please do not get concerned if you see an emergency vehicle in the parking lot; they are here to provide support to all of us. Thanks again for all the support you give us at Liberty Ridge. It was a wonderful day, and we are looking forward to many fun activities taking place this week as we head into the break. 

Julie Nelson, Middleton Elementary principal

Today will undoubtedly be a difficult day and we know that students will have questions. This morning at 7:30 we will have a full staff meeting to talk about appropriate responses and how to handle the situation when students begin the conversation or ask questions. Please know that we will reassure them that school is a safe place and that it is important that they be at school. Our staff is committed today and everyday of making sure that the environment we create is safe and welcoming. As part of our building plan we practice both modified and full lockdown drills so that staff members know and understand their responsibility in making sure students are safe. We emphasize to the students that if there is ever an emergency that their eyes and ears should be focused on the adult in charge. We will continue to expect that all visitors check in at the office beginning at 7:50 and ending at 2:50. I am not anticipating that the conversations will occur in our primary classrooms as it is a lot to comprehend. I will be asking the Middleton teachers to email their classroom list servs at the conclusion of the day to review with parents what was discussed and the primary concerns of our students. The responsibility we have as educators and as a school community is overwhelming on a day like today, but I want to reassure you that we will always keep the students safety as our #1 priority. I am anticipating additional police presence at all of our schools this week. Please do not get concerned if you see an emergency vehicle in our parking lot. They are here to help us out. Should you have any questions, I would ask that you contact the office and they can route your question to the appropriate person. Thank you for your support! 

Andrew Caflisch, Red Rock Elementary principal

As you are aware, there was a tragic shooting at a school in Connecticut on Friday, December 14, 2012. As a result of the incident happening in a school setting, it creates a level of concern for students and families locally. 

The Red Rock staff will closely monitor questions and concerns from students in the days ahead. We will pay close attention to our security steps/routines and review the school wide crisis plan. As a part of our current plan, students and staff have been involved in crisis planning events throughout this school year. Woodbury Chief of Police, Lee Vague, has committed to providing additional police presence at our schools tomorrow. 

Math and Science Academy

In response to the tragic event this past Friday, I want to ensure you that safety and security are priorities here at MSA.  We practice lockdowns – three so far, and another planned this week, even before this most recent event.  All the doors are kept locked, except the front door, and we have security cameras all over the building.

Below is what I thought worth passing on in dealing with our kid’s reaction to the horrific event of last week.

1. Increase physical touch.  Sometimes words are not enough and the comfort or long hugs or extra snuggle time has been shown to lower anxiety in traumatic situations.

2. Be a good listener.  Let your child openly express their own feelings of worry, fear, or sorrow.  Affirm that it’s very normal to feel this way.

3. Ask open-ended questions. i.e. "Tell me what you’ve heard about the shootings."  "What is it that worries you?"  "What would help you feel less scared?"

4. If your child is concerned about safety in his/her own school, reassure them that school shootings are extremely rare.  There are over 120,000 school in the US and this a very rare occurrence.  (As a result of the Columbine tragedy 13 years ago, school are actually safer now and many schools have emergency plans in place and have practiced them.)  Tell your child that there will always be a helper at school to guide them in case of an emergency.  You can also let your child know that there were many children who were saved because of loving teachers who protected their students and kept them safe.

5. Limit your child’s exposure to media images in the days to come.  Young children, in particular don’t know that the images they see are actually replays of the incident so they think each image is an additional tragedy they’re witnessing.

6. Keep explanations brief and age-appropriate.  If your child has not heard or seen any coverage of the incident, please be the one to tell your child that something very sad has occurred and that some children were hurt at a school by a very sick person who can’t hurt anyone anymore.   Reassure your child that s/he is safe and you will do everything in your power to keep them safe and so will their teachers at school.

7. Sometimes taking even a small action step can help children (and adults) feel more empowered.  Light a candle in your home to honor the lost children.  Your child could color a picture that’s sent to the surviving students at: Sandy Hook Elementary School, 12 Dickinson Drive., Sandy Hook, CT 06482. A list of charities to donate to is emerging, too. Here’s a link, but check to see if the organizations are valid:
http://www.wcpo.com/dpp/news/national/groups-raising-funds-for-victims-of-newtown-conn-shooting

8. Keep your normal activities and routines in place so children feel a sense of security.

We don’t know why this horrific act was committed but each of us can do our best to raise children who know how to express anger in a healthy way.  We must be approachable parents who listen deeply to our children’s concerns.  And we must teach our children that violence is never a solution to a problem but rather teach them problem-solving and conflict resolution methods to work out problems peacefully.

Candy Hofstad, Bailey Elementary School principal

Today will undoubtedly be a difficult day and we know that students will have questions. This morning at 8:20 we had a full staff meeting to talk about appropriate responses and how to handle the situation if students begin the conversation or ask questions. Please know that we will reassure them that school is a safe place and that it is important that they be at school. Our staff is committed today and everyday of making sure that the environment we create is safe and welcoming. As part of our building plan we practice both modified and full lockdown drills so that staff members know and understand their responsibility in making sure students are safe. We emphasize to the students that if there is ever an emergency that their eyes and ears should be focused on the adult in charge.  We will continue to expect that all visitors check in at the office beginning at 9:00 and ending at 3:50. I am not anticipating that the conversations will occur in our primary classrooms as it is a lot to comprehend.  I have asked the Bailey teachers to email their classroom list servs at the conclusion of the day to review with parents what was discussed and the primary concerns of our students. The responsibility we have as educators and as a school community is overwhelming on a day like today, but I want to reassure you that we will always keep the students safety as our #1 priority.  I am anticipating additional police presence at all of our schools this week.  Please do not get concerned if you see an emergency vehicle in our parking lot.  They are here to help us out. Should you have any questions, I would ask that you contact the office and they can route your question to the appropriate person.  Thank you for your support!   

Local Voices

Feeling Grief... Embracing Joy

2nd Amendment Debate: Are We Capable of Hard Work or Are We in Real Trouble?

 

Like Patch on Facebook | Follow us on Twitter | Sign up for our free newsletter

Kris Janisch December 17, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Got that PDF uploaded.
Susan Jamison December 17, 2012 at 05:40 PM
It was very appreciated.
Beth-Ann Bloom December 17, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Woodbury is lucky to have Lee Vague!
Kris Janisch December 17, 2012 at 07:04 PM
From our Facebook page: Rhonda: I LOVE having the police in our schools. Makes me feel better about sending my kids to school. Denise: Saw them outside the school this morning, and it made it a little easier to let my 1st grader walk into school today.... Mike: Sad and glad they are out and about. I look forward to long-term solutions to the security and safety strategy. Wish we as a species could be more proactive rather than so reactive.
Kris Janisch December 17, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Got this post updated with more comments from schools and another item from a Woodbury Patch blogger.
Kris Janisch December 17, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Another comment from a principal added.
Rob December 18, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Must be select schools receiving the extra patrols. I was around Royal Oaks four times today and did not notice any extra police presence
kris solheim December 24, 2012 at 01:19 PM
I think it was great to of had the extra police presence, however at first my kids were startled seeing the police, worried if something happened. Then my kids and other kids started talking to them and were reassured from the officer that they were there to keep them safe !
Kris Janisch January 03, 2013 at 08:21 PM
Globe University just posted this on their Facebook page: ATTENTION STUDENTS: In our continuous efforts to increase safety and security, the Woodbury campus has implemented a new door locking structure. Effective Wednesday, January 2, 2013: ALL DOORS will be locked at all times with the exception of the main front doors.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something