Tragic Event in Connecticut

Dear Goochland Families:

I am writing to share some thoughts on the horrific incident in Newtown, CT, yesterday.  My heart goes out to the families of students, teachers and principals who did not return home from school.  We are all saddened on so many levels by this terrible situation, and cannot imagine the multitude of emotions being expressed throughout our community.  I hope that you will join me in keeping these families in your thoughts and/or prayers.

We believe that our schools are extremely safe and I just wanted to share a few of the proactive safety practices that we have in place, amongst many others, to support your children and our schools:

  • Regular drills, including lock-down drills, fire drills, and tornado drills.
  • The Sheriff’s department provides a School Resource Officer to the GMS/GHS Complex.
  • We regularly review our crisis management plans side-by-side with our safety-based policies and our code of conduct.  As recently as Wednesday of last week, the leadership team met to review our practices and suggest improvements for the future.
  • Regular meetings with school-based law enforcement and discussions with the Sheriff to share best practices.

We are fully invested in being comprehensive and thorough in our daily approach, and are always looking for new ways to be a better and safer school division for all.  I think as a nation we must all use this opportunity to reflect on whether we are utilizing best safety practices in schools and we will continue to do so.  

I know some of your children may be feeling anxiety as they learn the details from this school throughout the weekend.  We will do everything in our power to continue to provide a consistent, yet safe and supportive atmosphere in the wake of this tragedy.  We will ask our school psychologists and school counselors to hold “as needed” meetings to allow students to talk about their feelings in a developmentally appropriate way. I know that families throughout Goochland will be discussing this incident throughout the weekend and we urge you to contact us if you have any questions.

 

We are here for you if you need us.

6 comments

  1. Thank you for your comments & concerns. I am interested in knowing the preventative measures the schools are taking to keep this type of incident from occuring, such as metal detectors used on entrants to the school, or locked doors with buzzer entry. We cannot wait for “something to happen” before we improve our security. I know some schools have buzzer entrance. But dilligence is required to make it work. Thank you, Karen McLaughlin

  2. I am deeply saddened by the tragedy in Newtown CT and other senseless terrorizing events like it, falling into a pattern lately in our Country. Could something like that happen in a small school system like Goochland? Well, there is a part of me saying no way: we are a caring loving community with good family values, great law enforcement, and vigilant in looking after one another, and I take pride in that; however, is this enough to deter such a horrible incident from potentially risking the lives of our citizens, young and old? The answer is a definite no, and the solution is far too complex, considering all the variables that come to play, locally, statewide, and at the national level. I know ideas are abound and calls for this action and that law are plenty, but the responsibility starts with the individuals locally. What we can and should be doing more of is early detection of behaviors that, if not addressed and treated properly in the beginning, have grave consequences for all of us. This means allocating enough resources, human and capital, to help families seek treatment for their loved ones, without the threat of social stigma. The schools are the best environment for early detection and provide the perfect fit to proactively work with families to find solutions before it becomes too late. While this is not the all encompassing solution, it is one that makes good sense and goes a long way towards saving lives.

  3. I am grateful for your blog, Dr. Lane. As a teacher this morning, I was concerned that there would be no plan for our children today. There will be many questions and some fear, even among our middle schoolers. I hope the parents did not let them see the tragedy over and over again on the TV. Beth McKenzie-Mohr

  4. I have complained to the YMCA about the tindertots building not being locked, the YMCA has placed a doorbell on their side of the building but the other side (goochland Pre-K side) is consistently unlocked throughout the day. On several occasions when I pick my daughter up from the YMCA daycare, the Pre-K side door is propped open or unlocked. How can this be safe having one door locked, the YMCA side, if the door just a few feet away is unlocked several times a day (Pre-K side)? Please talk to your Pre-K teacher about making sure the doors stay locked, out of respect for us parents who have our children in the YMCA program within the same building.

  5. Dear Dr. Lane,

    Thank you for the blog site and the open communication you foster here.

    Does the Sheriff provide for the School Resource Officer to be physically present for the full school day? how are the elementary schools covered with respect to their ability to respond with an armed deputy or armed school personnel to a terrible event?

    Regardless of ones position on gun control, I am one who would support the presence of armed security, either in the form a full time/full day assigned Sheriff’s Deputy or trained school personnel (administrator or teacher) in the schools. It would seem to me that a School Resource Officer could play a very positive role as a guidance counselor/community interface whereby they would not just simply be a sentry. (disclaimer: as a new parent, I admit I am unfamiliar with current protocol and relationship with the Sheriff’s office.) I think our Sheriff’s Department is excellent and you should be able to work with them)

    Unfortunately, our first responders to a violent crisis are typically unarmed teachers and children. The few minutes of an emergency phone call and travel time to a school location to respond can be an eternity in the face of a determined attacker. I am uncomfortable with the fact that any weapon at all could be used against a student or teacher without the true ability to respond in kind with preventative force.

    When these terrible events occur it seems the perpetrators however mentally unstable, are simply very determined to do harm and at all costs.

    While society debates the issues of mental health support to troubled individuals and gun control, the fact of the matter is the we have to be able to defend against an assault on school children and teachers whether the weapon be any type of gun, knife, or other potentially harmful object.

    I do not believe that a larger “no guns” or “no dangerous weapons” sign is a credible answer nor is relying on an unarmed teacher to stand in the way of a determined and armed individual.

    I would support a budget increase at the school board and county level to accommodate and address preventative measures in the form of full time/all day armed security at the schools. I think this can and should be coordinated as best possible with the Sheriff’s office, both in terms of budget and staff. The deterrent factor of everyone knowing there could be an immediate armed response to a violent act would be a very good step in the right direction of prevention.

    Sincerely,

    Bob Marcellus

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