The Fayetteville-Manlius School District sent an email to parents in response to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut today that claimed the lives of 27.
In the wake of the tragedy, parents may have questions about the safety and security of the district school buildings, the email said. It outlined a variety of measures and programs put in place over the years to deter school violence – the majority of which focus on building a stronger school community through communication, respect and responsibility.
“There is nothing more important to us at F-M than the safety of our students and staff,” Superintendent Corliss Kaiser said.
Security measures have been put in place at each building to make the schools as safe as they can be.
“We train our staff annually on safety procedures,” said F-M Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Michael Vespi. “Since the district’s School Information and Resource Officer began in the district, our staff regularly works with him on safety issues and/or concerns. We strive to do the best we can to protect our kids.”
According to the school district, some of these measures include:
—Doors at all of the district’s middle schools and elementary schools are locked except during arrival, departure and other specified times. When the doors are locked, visitors must “buzz-in” to office staff at the main entrance for admission using a video intercom.
—At the high school, instead of entering via the intercom system, visitors sign in with a security aide stationed at each House’s main entrance during the school day.
—Within each school, all visitors are required to have a visitor’s pass at all times.
—All new employees, including teachers, are fingerprinted before they are hired and extensive background checks on done by the State Education Department and FBI.
Parents or community members having questions or concerns about the information above are encouraged to call the district at 692-1234 or visit fmschools.org.
Parents are also encouraged to abide by these tips, provided by PBS.org, as they discuss tragic events with their children:
—Start by finding out what your child knows. When a news topic comes up, ask an open-ended question to find out what she knows like “What have you heard about it?” This encourages your child to let you know what she is thinking.
—Ask a follow up question. Depending on your child’s comments, ask another question to get him thinking, such as “Why do you think that happened?” or “What do you think people should do to help?”
—Explain simply. Give children the information they need to know in a way that makes sense to them. At times, a few sentences are enough.
—Listen and acknowledge. If a child talks about a news event (like a local robbery or kidnapping) and is worried, recognize her feeling and comfort her. You might say “I can see you’re worried, but you are safe here. Remember how we always lock our doors.” This acknowledges your child’s feelings, helps her feel secure, and encourages her to tell you more.
—Offer reassurance. When a child is exposed to disturbing news, she may worry about her safety. To help her calm down, offer specific examples that relate to her environment like, “That hurricane happened far away but we’ve never had a hurricane where we live.” Actions speak louder than words — so show your child how you lock the door if she gets scared by a news report about robbers, point out the gutters and storm drains if a hurricane story causes fear, and explain what the security guards do at the airport after a story about terrorists.
—Tailor your answer to your child’s age. The amount of information children need changes age by age. “A kindergartner may feel reassured simply knowing a hurricane is thousands of miles away. An older child may want to know how hurricanes could affect the place where he lives and may want to know what is being done to help those in need. Both ages will be reassured by doing something to help,” notes Jane Katch, M.S.T., author of Under Deadman’s Skin: Discovering the Meaning of Children’s Violent Play.