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May 25, 2022
Dear Gardner Public Schools Community,
We are communicating to you about the events in Uvalde, Texas, where a school shooting occurred in an elementary school where a gunman killed 19 students and 2 teachers. We acknowledge that this story and its relevant details will evolve in the coming hours, days, and weeks.
We are devastated to hear about this horrific event and our hearts go out to these students, families, school staff, and their community. Like many of you, we worry about the frequency of these events across our country, and understand the anxiety that many of our students, staff, and families may be experiencing. We want to assure you that safety is our highest priority, and we update our procedures and responses as local law enforcement officials learn more about responses to these types of situations. Specifically, we wanted to take this opportunity to share just a few of our procedures with you.
- Our school resource officers will have a greater presence in our schools in the upcoming days as a matter of assurance to our families and students. They have been and continue to be a great resource for us proactively and responsively.
- We have greatly increased the number of mental health professionals in our buildings as well as tools and systems to proactively identify internal student safety concerns, and respond appropriately and assess risk factors when students are unsafe. This is now part of our comprehensive Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) and will continue to be a routine that will be embedded into our district-wide culture.
- Our district implemented the ALICE protocol as a response to any potential armed intruder. ALICE is designed to provide comprehensive preparedness in the event of an intruder in one of our schools. The goal is to utilize infrastructure, technology, and human action to increase overall student and staff safety. Our staff receive annual training in this protocol and we supplement this training with periodic drills and scenarios to further increase our preparedness. Each school has a crisis committee, a safety committee, and response teams. Currently, more than 900 schools, businesses, universities, hospitals, and municipalities have adopted the ALICE protocol.
Given our students’ exposure to technology, many of them have likely seen information about the tragedy in Uvalde, so this will no doubt be top-of-mind discussion among families throughout the nation for days to come. Our staff and counselors will be available for students in school as needed and we have provided you with links to a resource that might support you as you process this event with your child(ren). Please reach out to one of your child’s counselors if you feel your child needs specific support in processing this incident.
National Association of School Psychologists: Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers
Printable, translated formats are below:
We hope that you will help us reassure your children that we have many safety protocols in place. Our staff will continue to work closely with our students and families when they are experiencing difficult situations, and we always encourage all members of our community to speak up when they have a concern. Thank you for your continued support during these trying times.
Mark J. Pellegrino, Ed.D. Karen McCrillis
Superintendent, Gardner Public Schools District Counseling Coordinator