School administrators in Portsmouth are meeting today to review all existing safety procedures and practices in place "as a way of being responsive and sensitive to the incident that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School," wrote Superintendent Lynn Krizic in an e-mail.
"Should there be any recommended changes that involve any capital costs, they will be shared with the School Committee at one of their upcoming meetings," she said.
Portsmouth schools released an urgent e-mail to parents on Friday after , one of the worst school shootings in recent U.S. history.
The message to parents, copied below and posted at right as a pdf, lists valuable resources for parents on how to talk with their children after this tragedy.
Our hearts go out to the entire community of Newtown, Connecticut in light of the terrible events that transpired there today. We along with everyone in the country and in our schools were, of course, shocked as this horrific crime unfolded. Unfortunately, as a nation we are experiencing tragedies of such significance that we are all continuously being deeply affected by the sense of loss.
It is important for our families and community to know that our buildings are always locked during the school day. As soon as our building leaders learned of the shooting they immediately sought to ensure all doors were locked as is our procedure in times of a crisis.
Please know that while there is no plan that can totally prevent a random act of senseless violence like this, the Portsmouth School Department does have a school safety plan in place that has been reviewed by law enforcement authorities, administrators and teachers. As the lessons of this event emerge, our plan will be reviewed and updated accordingly.
This tragedy will be splashed across every communication medium for days and weeks to come. It will most likely be difficult for our children to escape hearing about it. We encourage you to limit your child’s exposure to this traumatic information, and if you watch the television about this event, do it together.
We know that in times like these, when parents aren’t sure what to do, or how or if to talk about such tragedies because adults first have to sort out their own feelings. Because of the significance of this tragedy we thought it would be helpful to provide you with access to information and the guidance offered by child health experts. Following are links that will hopefully assist you in that conversation:
American Psychological Association – Helping Your Children Manage Distress in the Aftermath of a Shooting http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/aftermath.aspx
American Academy of Pediatrics – Resources to Help Parents, Children and Others Cope in the Aftermath of School Shootings http://www.healthychildren.org/English/news/pages/AAP-Offers-Resources-to-Help-Parents,-Children-and-Others-Cope-in-the-Aftermath-of-School-Shootings.aspx
American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry – Children and Grief http://aacap.org/page.ww?name=Children+and+Grief§ion=Facts+for+Families
Massachusetts General Hospital for Children –How Parents Can Help Children After a National Tragedy http://www.massgeneral.org/about/newsarticle.aspx?id=3912
Child Mind Institute – Caring For Kids After A School Shooting http://www.childmind.org/en/posts/articles/2011-1-6-caring-kids-after-school-shooting
In the days and weeks ahead, we suggest you let your child ask you questions, rather than just giving all the information. This helps you know how much he or she can handle. Be truthful without exaggerating the concern.
Watch for signs that your young child is in distress: any unusual changes in behavior; fear of being alone or the dark; excessive crying, bed-wetting or other reversion problems; acting out; sleeplessness; etc. If you notice these behaviors, contact your medical professional for follow-up.
Our school social workers and guidance counselors will be available to speak with students next week, should they need additional support.
Lynn S. Krizic, Ed.D., Superintendent