Like so many of you, I am heartbroken by the tragedy that took place at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. It is another terrible and senseless act of violence against innocent children and school staff. The day after the horrific event, I wrote to our staff and thanked them for coming to school even when the world feels like a crazy and dangerous place—because what we do here each and every day brings joy, knowledge, and understanding to the young people in our care.
“Children are at the heart of all we do,” as our school mission states. We understand the tremendous trust you place in us when you drop your children off at school each morning. Our highest aspirations are to nurture and teach your children, and our most fervent commitment is to their safety and wellbeing first and foremost. While no amount of preparation can guarantee that a tragedy will not occur, we take seriously the importance of practicing our safety procedures with students and staff through emergency exercises and age-appropriate discussions.
Our school, in 2018, as part of a statewide initiative to increase the safety and security measures of Vermont schools, made the decision to lock the school’s exterior doors during the school day. This was a radical shift from the Village School’s long tradition of having an “open door” (literally and figuratively). It was hard for me, and many others, to take this step (given the Village School’s welcoming and inclusive culture) yet the times we live in have forced us to be vigilant.
The Village School has a Safety & Security Plan guiding our protocols and crisis management procedures. All staff also adhere to stringent safety procedures when it comes to locking all access doors, monitoring student release, and requiring visitor check-ins at our school office.
There is little I can say to offer solace at a time like this, however, I am sharing below some helpful resources that the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) compiled for families and students. I encourage you to make time to talk with your children and let their questions guide you as to how much information to provide and what they feel they need to discuss.
For additional guidance on talking with children following a tragedy, please review this article from the National Association of School Psychologists.
Wishing everyone a restful and enjoyable long weekend as we remember and honor those who have served to protect our country and our freedom.
NAIS Resources and Support
Helping Children Cope with Tragedy
- Talking to Children About Tragedies (American Academy of Pediatrics)
- Helping Kids After a Shooting (American School Counselor Association)
- Promoting Compassion and Acceptance in Crisis (National Association of School Psychologists)
- Children and the News (American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry)
- Explaining the News to Our Kids (Common Sense Media)
- Helping Children Cope with Frightening News (Child Mind Institute)