'Normal' Day for West Morris After CT Shooting
Enhanced police presence and counseling support available during first day of classes since Connecticut tragedy.
It was the first of classes since Friday's shocking school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., stunned the nation as 20-year-old Adam Lanza took the lives of 27 people, including his own mother.
Officials in the local school districts prepared to deal with any potential fallout from the unprecedented event, all while trying to have as normal a day as possible.
In Washington Township K-8 district, preparation began well before the first students arrived. Superintendent Jeffrey Mohre said the faculty all came together before the start of the school day at their respective schools
"It was important for us to come together in support of one another and to unite in our effort to make this school day as normal as possible for the children," Mohre said.
Mohre said that the district's mental health professionals provided guidance to address the needs of both children and adults.
"During time of tragedy, it is important that children sense the love and support of caring adults, and there is no doubt that such abounds throughout Washington Township," Mohre said.
A similar system was in place in the Chester Consolidated School District, with faculty meeting to get on the same page.
"All the schools met this morning with the counselors and everyone reports that the kids are focused on their day to day and it has hardly been mentioned at the two elementary schools," Chester Superintendent Christina VanWoert said. "We are all having a relatively normal day, thankfully."
According to Mendham Township Superintendent Sal Constantino, the day began with a call for renewed diligence in performing safety procedure drills, followed by a reminder that staff available in the Guidance Office for students who are feeling uneasy.
"A moment of silence was held explicitly for the purpose of quote 'supporting the school community and families who were effected by the tragic events in Connecticut on Friday,'" Constantino said. "We place tremendous weight on our teachers to ensure they provide just the right environment to keep every student comfortable and productive. They are doing an excellent job as I would expect. They are consummate professionals, very focused and concerned for the students well-being."
Constantino, VanWoert and Mohre all said an enhanced police presence was on hand at the start of the school day and they were very well received in their respective K-8 districts.
Same was true at the West Morris Regional School District where Superintendent Mackey Pendergrast said in his informal conversations with parents.
"Although no amount of preparation can completely secure our campuses 100% of the time, the partnership we have with our police departments is an essential factor in our readiness," Pendergrast said.
Pendergrast also released tips for talking to students about violence that is attached to this post.