Besides expressing sympathy to the Newtown CT community, West Orange school district administrators reached out to the public to "assure families that we have multiple procedures in place to deal with any crisis situation," according to a communication from Interim Superintendent James O'Neill.
O'Neill further told parents that, "We have requested that the West Orange Police make their presence at our schools more frequent and for longer periods of time tomorrow and the rest of the week. They have agreed and will have a police presence at all schools at opening and dismissal. We greatly appreciate their cooperation."
West Orange public school students, explains O'Neill, participate in two monthly drills and follow a crisis plan approved by local and county law enforcement. Cameras are installed at the entrance to all schools, and visitors must be buzzed into the buildings.
"Recent events in town which resulted in the evacuation of Roosevelt and a lockdown at both Pleasantdale and the high school tell us that staff and students are well trained and responded appropriately in these unplanned circumstances," wrote O'Neill. "We believe it is prudent for parents to be concerned but we also believe we are engaged in best practices and believe we have take all the steps to assure your child is safe in the West Orange schools."
The district also released the following for West Orange families to consider:
As we all try to come to grips with the tragedy in Newtown, Ct our focus is on the families and students in West Orange. We want you to know and think about the following:
- We recommend you have some discussion about the incident at home. Other students will have learned about it from parents or older siblings and it is best your child hear about it from you first. The discussion does not need to be in detail, just that something happened which scared students and while it was far from here some of your friends might be upset so it is best to talk about your feelings with a counselor;
- We request you call school tomorrow if your child has been impacted by what happened and may need special help;
- We have requested that the West Orange Police make their presence at our schools more frequent and for longer periods of time tomorrow and the rest of the week. They have agreed and will have a police presence at all schools at opening and dismissal. We greatly appreciate their cooperation;
- Since most parents do not have any experience dealing with an incident this tragic we have provided some websites which will give you some guidance in talking with your children – please see links below