In the days following Friday's tragic school shooting in Newtown, Conn., local superintendents have responded swiftly in ensuing days by reviewing security procedures of their own while communicating with students, teachers, and parents about events that have left all school districts feeling a little more vulnerable and a little less innocent.
Several districts posted letters on their websites by Monday, with more notes expected. Though the mass shooting has been beyond words for many.
"I lost a lot of sleep over the weekend," said Bridgehampton Superintendent Lois Favre. "But as much as I have reflected upon what's happened, there really are no words. I couldn't come up with anything earth-shattering to tell them. It just leaves us feeling very vulnerable."
Bridgehampton administrators will be meeting Monday afternoon, Favre said, to go through their safety procedures, and the superintendent said a letter to families in the district will be going out on Monday.
But after 20 elementary school children were killed on Friday, it's the impact on the students themselves that Favre said she wants to keep watch over.
"To the credit of our parents, I think the younger students are not as aware. My concern is that as the day goes on, they might start talking about it and get more anxious. But we have assured them that we are safe here," she said.
On Sag Harbor and Southampton School District's websites, notes from superintendents list resources for parents – such as the National Association of School Psychologists and the Lucy Daniels Center – when it comes to dealing with tragic events with children.
"Please know that our goal is to be gentle, but honest, and to assure children that they are safe and that their schools are well prepared to take care of them at all times," wrote Dr. Richard Boyes, superintendent of Southampton S.D. Keeping in line with the thought of preparing students at any time, Southampton High School had stayed the course last Friday after hearing about the shooting, opting to go on with a lockdown drill that had previously been scheduled.
Tuckahoe Superintendent Chris Dyer wrote via email that security alertness was heightened on Friday, and he and his staff have since re-evaluated their emergency procedures. However, maintaining a sense of normalcy is also part of the goal when it comes to keeping children safe.
"We also want normalcy in our schools as much as we can to allow a safe and secure learning environment to be present," wrote Dyer. "The tragic event in Connecticut heightened our awareness and our positive prevention practices and reminded us that normal has challenging interruptions that are in many cases outside our direct influence."
Favre touched upon a similar theme.
"That kind of evil, I don't know that you can stop it," she said. However that doesn't mean improvements cannot be made, she added.
"This is something that's going on all over the country. Everyone is looking and trying to do everything they can at this point to make people feel safe."