Editor's Note: In response to this past Friday's massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll B. Davis, Jr., posted the following letter Monday morning at the APS website.
Monday, December 17, 2012
Dear APS students, parents, employees, and supporters,
This past Friday, December 14, our country experienced one of the most horrific crimes imaginable. Twenty children and seven adults were killed by a gunman who terrorized an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. We are deeply saddened by the tragedy, and on behalf of the APS community, I would like to express our most sincere condolences to the families whose lives have been changed forever.
Whenever a national tragedy occurs, our children are often confused or frightened. They rely on adults whom they know and trust for information and guidance. To help students cope with the tragedy, our schools will adhere to several guidelines. We will do the following:
- Assure students that they are safe.
- Maintain structure and stability within the school.
- Have school psychologists and/or counselors available.
- Allow time for age-appropriate classroom discussion.
- Provide an outlet for students’ desire to help.
These guidelines are aligned with recommendations offered by the National Association of School Psychologists. Please review the attached copy of A National Tragedy: Helping Children Cope, which offers additional guidance and information for parents.
The tragedy in Newtown has raised awareness about safety and security at schools across the country. Please be assured that we have comprehensive safety and security plans in place to ensure that everyone –students, educators and parents– is safe in our schools.
Safety drills are performed throughout the year at schools, where school personnel, students and school detective units collaborate to improve the process. Further, we have a close working relationship with the Atlanta Police Department, and we regularly review our practices and safety protocols to lessen any risks associated withour plan.
While we are confident that our safety and security plan will provide a safe learning environment for all APS students, I ask all parents and community members to remain vigilant at all times; if something does not seem right, please alert the proper school officials.
Our students deserve schools that are free of safety and security threats. We must work together to protect our future … our children.
Erroll B. Davis, Jr.