Parents across the country were anxious to wrap their arms around their children in the wake of the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown today and North Branford was no exception. Superintendent Scott Schoonmaker spent the afternoon at Jerome Harrison Elementary School where two North Branford Police Department patrol cars were also on duty.
“While it was a targeted event, isolated to that town, we will still take precautionary measures next week as we head into vacation,” said Schoonmaker. “You could see the emotions – I have twins in 2nd grade so I get what the parents were feeling. Today’s shooting was beyond a tragedy – it’s senseless and incomprehensible.”
The NBPD also had cars stationed at Totoket Valley Elementary School with Lieutenant David D’Ancicco noting, “We just wanted to have a presence to make everyone feel a little safer.”
Schoonmaker said that students at all schools practice various safety drills throughout the year, including fire drills, lockdown drills and evacuation drills, though he said, “You can never be fully prepared for something like this.” D’Ancicco also confirmed that a full mock lockdown is planned for early spring.
The administration at each school is also prepared to deal with students’ questions and concerns regarding the shooting with Schoonmaker noting that the staff will have responses with appropriate language for each age group. Counseling services will also be available as needed.
“We have a professional staff that is well trained in the grief process and helping kids that may be feeling the effects of this to varying degrees,” said Schoonmaker. “We’ll use it [media coverage and social media impact] as a source to communicate with our kids, but we have to continue on. We have to think about and pray for those families and remember them – there’s no question about it – but we’ll also have to get back to our routine, too.”
If you need tips on talking to your children about the tragedy, 2-1-1 offers many resources.