Letter to Parents in Wake of Sandy Hook - English and Spanish

Click here for letter to parents in English.
Click here for letter to parents in Spanish.
Dear Parents,
I know the horror and tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School weighs heavy in the hearts and minds of families everywhere. I want to reassure you that your child will be safe and well-cared-for at school this week.
School Security
The School District is taking extra precautions to tighten security at all of our schools. The Police Department is also increasing its presence around schools throughout the week.
Our greatest defense in protecting our schools is human vigilance. We have asked our principals, teachers and staff to be on heightened alert throughout the week. You, as parents, can also play a role. Be alert and report any suspicious behavior you see at a school to staff or security personnel.
Additionally, we asked principals and staff to tighten security protocols already in place. That includes:

  • Keeping doors locked during school hours and using the camera and buzzer systems to allow parents and visitors to enter school buildings.
  • Having staff stationed at the front entrance to every school throughout the day.
  • Continuing to enforce entry procedures at schools, including the use of metal detectors (where available), bag searches, sign-in sheets and other entry protocols.

As a reminder, we also have school resource officers in many of the the high schools and community-based officers visiting elementary schools. These police officers offer an additional resource for keeping our students safe at school.
Counseling Services
Hearing about a school shooting can be traumatic for children and adolescents. We want you to know our school social workers, psychologists and guidance counselors are standing by to offer counseling to any student who needs it. Additionally, we have posted links on our website, www.nhps.net, to resources that will help parents talk to their children in the aftermath of a tragedy. Those links are posted in English and Spanish.
The following are general tips for how to talk to your child about a tragedy after one occurs:

Make an extra effort to provide comfort and reassurance.
Reassure the child that you and other grown-ups will protect them.
Encourage expression of feelings and emotions through play, drawing, puppet shows, and storytelling.
Limit media exposure.

Elementary-Age Children

Provide extra attention and consideration.
Set gentle but firm limits for acting out behavior.
Give clear explanations of what happened whenever a child asks. Avoid details that would scare a child. Correct any misinformation that your child has about whether there is a present danger.
Provide opportunities for children to express concern.
Limit media exposure.
Encourage expression of thoughts and feelings through conversation and play.
Point out kind deeds and the ways in which people helped each other during the disaster or traumatic event.

Preadolescents and Adolescents

Provide extra attention and consideration.
Be there to listen to your children, but don't force them to talk about feelings and emotions.
Encourage discussion of trauma experiences among peers.
Urge participation in physical activities.
Encourage resumption of regular social and recreational activities.
I want you to know that the safety and wellbeing of our students is the top priority at New Haven Public Schools. We will be doing everything we can in the coming days to make sure parents and students feel safe coming to school and can focus on learning.
Our hearts and prayers continue to be with the families and victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. We stand with Sandy Hook and we pray for the healing to begin.
Dr. Reginald Mayo