Roseville schools say safety a priority in wake of shooting

Districts making resources available to children, parents
By: Sena Christian, Staff Reporter
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Tips for talking to children about violence:

Take care of yourself first. Be calm, centered and emotionally ready to talk.

Keep it age and developmentally appropriate — kids under 7 may not understand or need to know about the event. Wait for very young children to ask you questions first.

Ask older kids to explain what they understand happened and then fact-check. You may have to clarify their understanding of the event.

Remind kids they can talk to you anytime.

Keep the description as simple and clear as possible and avoid euphemisms about death and violence. Do not make up reasons as to why the event occurred.

Reassure children they are safe now and that adults in the school are prepared to keep them safe.

Ask them how they feel and accept all responses.

Limit overexposure to news media. Do this for yourself and your family.

Some tragedies can be a teachable moment about compassion for others. Your child may want to process their feelings by sending condolences.

Source: National Association of School Psychologists


Although the mass murder that took the lives of 26 children and adults occurred across the country from Roseville, the tragedy has left local school districts reassuring parents that plans are in place to keep their children safe.

School counselors and psychologists are also available through local districts to talk one-on-one to youth who are grieving, upset or have questions.

On Dec. 14, 20-year-old Adam Lanza’s rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., left in its wake the bodies of 20 young children — all of them first graders — in the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. Lanza died at the scene of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to news reports.

Roseville City School District sent a letter to parents on Monday stating that the district continually reviews its safety policies and procedures. Schools conduct lockdown drills throughout the year.

Eich Intermediate School Principal Marc Buljan said his staff will begin running different lockdown scenarios such as when students are at lunch and not in classrooms or when administrators are in meetings off campus.

“(These are) different situations that could possibly happen,” Buljan said.

Most middle school students have cell phones, which poses a problem during a real lockdown as students may text incorrect information to their parents and, in the process, create unwarranted panic, Buljan said.

“There’s no way to control that,” he said. “So we’re going to prepare a general statement to text parents and use technology to our advantage and the students can be part of the solution.”

In terms of the Newtown tragedy, Eich’s teachers were advised to acknowledge what happened in general terms and respond with more information if students asked questions.

“We figured over the weekend most parents had discussed it with their kids,” Buljan said.

Dry Creek Joint Elementary School District also sent out a letter to parents on Monday with information on its crisis response plan and safety procedures. As part of the plan, schools routinely conduct drills and work closely with local law enforcement.

The letter includes tips for parents and teachers on how to talk to children about violence from the National Association of School Psychologists (see sidebar).

Eureka Union School District Superintendent Linda Rooney and school board President Ryan Jones issued a joint statement to families Monday afternoon about the tragedy with information on how the district is focusing on comprehensive school safety plans.

The district also posted resources on its website, providing information to staff and parents rather than directly to students.

“This is a very sensitive subject and we need to be careful to respect how each of the families choose to handle the sensitivity of what happened and have those discussions at home, especially the parents of very young children,” Rooney said.

Steve Williams, Roseville Joint Union High School District’s director of Student Services, said site safety teams have met this week and are revisiting safety plans at each school. There was a district-wide safety meeting on Tuesday with principals, school resource officers and safety coordinators in attendance.

“(We have) to be visible, be proactive, have our eyes open and ears to the ground and be reassuring,” Williams said.

Safety measures are routinely practiced throughout the year, including fire drills, lockdowns and evacuation and relocation.

“That hasn’t changed,” Williams said. “But this has brought everything to a higher level of scrutiny and attention. It’s just very sad.”

He said Roseville’s high school district is lucky because school resource officers are on campuses the majority of each day.

“We’re all responsible for participating in keeping our children safe,” Williams said. “Mike McGuire, our principal at Granite Bay High School, said it best: ‘We can face anything when we know we’re not alone.’ We’re blessed in this community because we’re not alone and because this is a united community that loves their children and would do anything for their safety.”

Granite Bay High School associated student body President Paige Finkemeier said many teachers addressed the tragedy in class on Monday.

“It has clearly been affecting the school,” she said.