December 17: As Close as Possible to Normal

December 17, 2012

Dear Parents,

From what we have observed and heard, today was as close to a normal school day as possible, given the grief our nation is experiencing. Students and teachers seemed to welcome the comfort of normal routines.

Our approach as a District is to proceed with the school day, keep a close eye on students and adults, and provide support if needed. We are fortunate to have the services of counselors, school psychologists, and therapists from Bellefaire who are trained in crisis counseling. You will be notified if your child appears to be struggling.

Every child will respond to trauma differently. Some will have no ill effects; others may suffer an immediate and acute effect. Still others may not show signs of stress until sometime after the event. Signs of great distress might include a change in the child's school performance, changes in relationships with peers and teachers, excessive worry, school refusal, sleeplessness, nightmares, headaches or stomachaches, or loss of interest in activities that the child used to enjoy. The downloadable article at the bottom of this page from the National Association of School Psychologists offers more detailed advice that you may find useful.

Please let the school know if you observe behavior at home that suggests your child is in need of support. We are here to help.

Teachers have been asked to keep in mind the age of their students if the topic of the shootings comes up. With young children, our practice is not to initiate discussion of the tragic events. If as parents you have chosen to shield your children from the news, we do not believe it is our place as educators to inform them. Older students are more likely to be aware of the tragedy. Teachers use their best professional judgment to address any questions and can ask for guidance or assistance.

The shootings in Connecticut are naturally raising questions about school security. We review our safety and security procedures on a regular basis, and lockdown drills are conducted annually in each school under the supervision of the Shaker Heights Police Department. It is clear that this event will prompt a review of procedures, in Shaker and around the nation. We will approach this task thoughtfully, with the guidance of our police department and other experts.

We appreciate your trust and support as all of us work through this week.


Mark Freeman, Superintendent

Marla Robinson, Assistant Superintendent

Bernice Stokes, Assistant Superintendent



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