Dear Berlin Central School District families,
As you may know, 17 students and teachers recently lost their lives during a school shooting in Parkland, FL. Our deepest condolences are with those affected by the senseless and horrific event that occurred in Parkland, Florida. This horrific tragedy represents the single biggest fear that parents have as they send their students to school each day.
Some parents have asked about the security of our schools here in Berlin, and I can assure you that we have a detailed security plan in effect. While, as an added security measure, we do not make public all our safety and emergency procedures, I can tell you that our schools are locked to the outside during the school day, and only visitors with legitimate reasons to be in our buildings can enter through a locked and monitored entryway. We provide our staff and students with training concerning emergency situations, and we work closely with our local law enforcement when it comes to safety and security.
No amount of review or practice is too much when it comes to the safety of our students and staff, and we will continue to review our plans to make sure that our schools are the absolute safest that they can be.
As a community, we must continue to look out for one another. We ask that you speak with your children and emphasize the importance of sharing information that could be considered threatening with a responsible adult. We ask that you please reach out to us or to police if you observe suspicious or unusual behaviors that could potentially pose a risk to our students. This may occur on social networking sites or even by word of mouth. Administrators, teachers, counselors and school psychologists are available to assist you.
I would like to share with you a list of tips from the National Association of School Psychologists about what parents can do at times like this:
- Reassure children that they are safe. Emphasize that schools are safe. Validate their feelings. Explain that all feelings are okay when a tragedy occurs. Let children talk about their feelings, help put them into perspective, and assist them in expressing these feelings appropriately.
- Make time to talk. Let their questions be your guide as to how much information to provide. Be patient. Children do not always talk about their feelings readily.
- Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate:
- Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that their school and homes are safe and that adults are there to protect them.
- Upper elementary and early middle school children will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what is being done at school. They may need assistance separating reality from fantasy. Discuss efforts of school and community leaders to provide safe schools.
- Upper middle school and high school students will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence. They will share concrete suggestions about how to make school safer and how to prevent tragedies in society. Emphasize the role that students have in maintaining safe schools by following school safety guidelines communicating any personal safety concerns to administrators and accessing support for emotional needs.
- Review safety procedures. This should include procedures and safeguards at school and at home. Help children identify at least one adult at school and in the community to whom they go if they feel threatened or at risk.
Ultimately, everyone has a role in maintaining a safe environment at Berlin CSD. Our community is indeed the sum of many people working together, including parents, teachers, volunteers, and countless others. We are grateful of the role of parents and guardians, and appreciate the support we receive from first responders and others.
Dr. Stephen Young