Multifaceted response to Texas tragedy
Published 8:26 pm Friday, May 27, 2022
By Dr. John B. Gordon III
Editor’s note: This column was adapted from a letter to Suffolk Public Schools stakeholders Wednesday.
Like many of you, we are shocked and deeply saddened by the news of the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Texas. We share in the heartbreak we are feeling for the families who have lost a loved one and extend our sympathy to the students, parents, staff and entire Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District community.
We understand that a tragedy close to home can cause our community to feel fear or anxiety. As added precautions, our school resource officers (SROs) will be more visible and vigilant throughout our buildings. Our safety monitors will continue to regulate the check-in/check-out process to ensure that all building entry points are secure.
We have also been in contact with the Suffolk Police Department to increase police presence in the vicinity of our schools. We know that children and teens will process this news in different ways. Therefore, counselors are available at each school building to assist students who may need some extra support.
Since children often look to parents and educators for understanding and guidance, we have provided a compilation of strategies and important points to consider when discussing a tragedy or crisis with children.
Keeping our students and staff safe is our top priority. Our strong partnership with the Suffolk Police Department and Suffolk Fire & Rescue allows school administrators and community leaders to work together quickly and efficiently on threat assessments, investigations and other safety concerns.
In addition, every Suffolk school has a crisis management plan approved by the Virginia Department of Education. All students, staff and administrators regularly participate in safety and lockdown drills to test their preparedness and understand their roles and responsibilities in the event of a crisis.
School should and must be a place where students feel completely safe and secure. As we process such an act of senseless violence, I remind you to hug your loved ones tighter and hold on a little longer.
We look to the days when school shootings stop, and schools can continue to focus on the joys of teaching and learning.
Dr. John B. Gordon III is superintendent of Suffolk Public Schools.