Kent School District Superintendent Israel Vela issued the following message to families on the district’s website in response to the school shooting in Texas:
In the aftermath of the tragic events that unfolded over the past few weeks, our hearts go out to the families of those involved in these devastating incidents. These heartbreaking events are always disturbing and especially when they occur in schools. It is natural that some students and families will be upset and may question the safety of their child’s school and the safety measures and precautions in place to keep students and staff safe.
We want to share with you the safety of our students is our number one priority. Please be aware we have an ongoing partnership with local law enforcement and our schools conduct safety and lockdown drills regularly.
We have invested in security technology such as building access controls, security camera upgrades, and emergency radio systems. Emergency response information is posted throughout our school buildings so that staff, students, and any person in a common space can be prepared to respond in the event of an emergency situation.
Kent School District safety staff train with our local law enforcement partners on “active threat” scenarios to be prepared for just such situations that we desperately hope will never happen in our district.
We are sharing with you some strategies you may use to help your children understand these events and cope with their feelings. Here are some tips from the National PTA:
• Maintain your composure. Kids model behavior.
• Reassure your children they are safe.
• Keep to your normal routine. Children need a sense of stability.
• Talk about the tragedy in an age-appropriate manner. Be patient. It’s common for children to ask the same questions over and over about death and disaster.
• Minimize or evaluate exposure to media.
• Help children to express their feelings. If they don’t know the words to state how they feel inside, try to help them put their feelings into words and/or use creative ways of communicating, such as through art, writing, or music.
• Listen. Ask questions.
• Make yourself available. Your children may need extra attention from you. Make time for them.
• Tell your children you love them and offer plenty of hugs and kisses.
Again, our thoughts are with those impacted by these recent events and we express our deepest condolences to these families, and the students and staff at the school impacted by yesterday’s event in Texas. Please know, we are focused on ensuring every student in the schools across our large district have access to a safe and healthy environment in which to learn, grow, and succeed.