After tragedy, Downers Grove administrators outline responses
In the wake of Friday's shooting tragedy, Downers Grove school officials are reminding parents and students of the districts' safety protocols. Meanwhile, administrators are outlining a more specific approach for students reacting to the Connecticut school shooting that left 20 first-grade students and six faculty members dead.
Community High School District 99 and Downers Grove Grade School District 58 both have emergency alert systems that go into effect to notify parents.
"In the case of an emergency, we will post information to our websites as well as use our phone and email notification system to share critical information," District 99 Superintendent Mark McDonald said in a statement.
Cell phone users can sign up for District 99's text message alerts by texting "subscribe" to 68453.
District 58, on the other hand, uses a parent notification system called SchoolMessenger to send phone messages or email notifications
"These messages are sent automatically to the email addresses and phone numbers that our families have provided to our schools," district spokeswoman Jennifer Waldorf said in an email. "Parents can update their contact information through their child's school."
At District 58's elementary and middle schools, administrators have outlined a specific, sensitive approach to dealing with last week's tragedy.
"Our goal this week is to maintain a nurturing, familiar and safe school environment for our students as we prepare for winter break," Superintendent Kari Cremascoli wrote in a letter posted on the school's website. " We need to remind our students of their safety in school, and help them focus on their learning."
The letter acknowledged that many parents might want to shield their young children from details of the event. As such, Cremascoli wrote, the district's approach will be "one of supportive reflection for one in need."
"Following suggestions from mental health experts, teachers have been advised to respond to students’ questions truthfully, but with the appropriate amount of limited detail so that questions and concerns are addressed without putting undue focus on the event," she wrote.
"Teachers are monitoring their students throughout the day watching for any indicators of stress or fear, and taking direction from their students as to how -- or whether -- this issue is addressed in their classroom."
For any students who seem upset about the incident, District 58 will offer individual support through a social worker, psychologist or counselor and will notify the parents, Cremascoli said.
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