Martha’s Vineyard Superintendent Matt D’Andrea sent a letter to parents on Tuesday night addressing the school shootings that occurred on Tuesday in Uvalde, Texas. According to the Austin American-Statesman, a Texas daily newspaper, at least 19 students in the elementary school and two adults were killed during the shooting. This is the deadliest school shooting in American history since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut.
“We are deeply saddened to hear the news of the school shooting today at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Our thoughts are with the members of that community,” D’Andrea wrote in the letter. “The safety of our students and our staff is always the top priority in our school system. We take seriously our responsibility to ensure the safety of your child every day.”
D’Andrea wrote about the emergency preparedness measures the Island’s schools have implemented in cooperation with each town’s police and fire department, including implementation of the Comprehensive School Threat Assessment Guidelines. He described the guidelines as “an evidence-based model for schools to use in conducting threat assessments of students.” He wrote that school counselors, administrators, and local law enforcement received training based on this model “to prevent potential violence in our schools.” D’Andrea said this method will be expanded upon in the coming year.
Another measure D’Andrea listed was this year’s increase in mental health literacy programs and mental health staffing. This provides students increased access to mental health support “during these unprecedented and stressful times.”
If parents or students notice possible threats posted on social media or elsewhere, D’Andrea asked in the letter that these concerns be reported to school administrators.
The letter also stated that while school counselors and administrators will be available for students for their needs regarding the Robb Elementary shooting, it will be important for parents to “spend time talking with your children and helping them cope with this news.” D’Andrea shared in the letter tips from the National Association of School Psychologists on how to support children during times of tragedy, which includes providing reassurance that children are safe.
“We will discuss and debrief with administrators and staff accordingly, so we can be ready to support your children when they return to school,” D’Andrea wrote.