December 17, 2012
Dear Catharine Blaine Parents and Community,
Over the weekend we all experienced deep feelings of sadness after watching the news about Sandy Hook Elementary School. We extend our care and sympathy to the families of those who were killed and injured and feel such deep concern for all the members of the Sandy Hook community. The news causes us to review our own safety and security here at Blaine. It is important for you to know that your child’s safety is a priority for us! In light of what happened on Friday in Connecticut, we have asked school staff to be extra vigilant.
In addition, the Seattle Police Department is providing extra support to our schools and coordinating additional patrols in our school zones. In the coming weeks, Seattle Public Schools security staff will meet with each principal to talk about our school’s safety plans and any emergency needs. I met with our neighborhood police today to find out about police visibility and support.
Today, the school’s Safety Committee met to review the policies and procedures in place here at Blaine. A representative from the Magnolia Community Center was also a part of this meeting.
What we will do:
Review all emergency procedures with staff.
Monitor hallways, the cafeteria and doors with extra vigilance.
Maintain one single point of entry during school hours and will keep all other external doors locked.
Make sure playground supervisors carry a cell phone to have instantaneous communication with the office and the police.
Continue to ask that no elementary students are in the hallways in the morning. They are to go outside on the playground until the bell rings. This allows staff to easily identify people who should not be in the hallways.
Ensure doors into Blaine from the Magnolia Community Center are locked.
What you can do:
Please sign in at the front office and wear a visitor’s badge when you are in the building or dropping your child off in the morning.
Please sign in and wear an orange vest when volunteering to work outside during recess.
Please do not prop open external doors that are locked.
We know that the tragedy in Connecticut is spurring a national conversation about gun control and school safety. At this time, there are no recommendations or plans to hire additional security. However, as more information is available from Connecticut in the weeks to come, we will review the report and recommendations from the Department of Education and law enforcement. We will work together and follow best practices to improve the safety in our schools. As parents ourselves, we know the difficulty in discussing tragic events such as these. I would like to share some helpful discussion techniques from the Childhood Development Institute:
Be truthful – Children need to understand what is happening around them to feel secure. Provide them with facts about what happened and acknowledge it was a terrible and frightening event. Help them to see that we share their feelings. Encourage any questions – Ensure your child feels as though they can approach you to ask questions as much as they need. Sometimes a child will process a tragic event much later and come back to you again for more discussion. Remind them that questions are welcome.
Ensure they feel safe – explain to them that it is a real misfortune what has happened and that we all feel for those people who were there or are experiencing pain.
Stay close by and show affection as they desire – give them a hug and reassure them that their world is safe. Keep them among familiar things until they’re feeling more secure, for example family and friends.
Allow the children to talk about it and how it has made them feel. Honestly answer their questions and try to put their minds at ease.
Please know that our teachers will continue to create a sense of normalcy for our students while acknowledging the tragedy in developmentally appropriate ways.
If you have any questions, please let us know.
Julie A. Cox Doug Ouellette
Principal Assistant Principal