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Schools offer help to cope with tragedy

PENN YAN, DUNDEE—Tragedies like the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut Friday, Dec. 14 can be difficult to deal with emotionally for students and parents of school-aged children. In response to the incident, both the Penn Yan and Dundee Central School Districts offered advice to students and parents on how to deal with their feelings of sadness and disbelief, as well as what the schools are doing as far as improving their own security.
“The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut has shaken all of us to our core and I’m sure that all of you are experiencing the same feelings of sadness and disbelief,” Penn Yan Superintendent David Hamilton said. “Our number one priority at PYCSD is to keep our students and staff safe so they can focus on teaching and learning.”
Hamilton and Dundee Superintendent Kathy Ring both said they have met with law enforcement to review their emergency and safety plans, while heightening security at the school buildings. Ring said the school resource officer will have a marked patrol vehicle parked outside so people know of the officer’s presence within the school building.
As far as dealing with student concerns, both Ring and Hamilton said the schools will continue with their normal routine and reassure students that they are safe. Hamilton said staff will try not to highlight the incident during instruction and avoid having full class discussions of the incident, doing their best to handle concerns privately with the school counselor or a social worker.
The superintendents offered strategies parents can use to help children cope with their fears. Hamilton said the best thing to do is monitor what children see on televised news coverage of the shooting, while remaining calm and reassuring if a child expresses a concern. He said avoiding speculation, acknowledging the feelings of a child, maintaining a sense of normalcy and spending family time together are the best ways to reassure a frightened child.
“Children must never be underestimated,” Ring said. “They are sensitive to how the adults in their lives are feeling. They are keenly aware of the expressions on our faces and the tone of our voices. They need to hear that we are doing everything we can to keep them safe.”





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