Article submitted by Oak Ridge Schools
The staff of Oak Ridge Schools recognizes that high profile acts of violence, particularly in schools, can cause worry, confusion, and fear of potential risks. We would like to provide some information and guidance about how we prepare, and how we plan to continue to respond in Oak Ridge. Our desire is that parents and school personnel can help students feel safe by establishing a sense of normalcy and security, and talking with them about their fears.
Our first desire is to reassure staff and students that they are safe, and that safety remains a top priority. We understand that the fears many are facing are real and natural in situations when tragedy occurs. Based on recommendations from the National Association of School Psychologists, we encourage students and staff to talk about their feelings so they can appropriately put them into perspective. For those who do not wish to talk about it, we encourage writing, playing music, or creating art to express feelings.
In our school district, we want to reassure our students that their schools are safe and that adults are there to protect them. We encourage students of all ages to ask questions about safety and what measures we take at our schools. We have engaged in extensive training efforts with our staff in each school with community leaders from our city fire and police departments to provide safe schools. We exercise routine safety drills with our students, and we will continue to improve in the implementation and frequency of these drills.
We are listening to a wide range of student opinions about how to prevent tragedies here in Oak Ridge. We believe that students have a vital role in maintaining our safe schools by accessing support for emotional needs, following school safety guidelines, and reporting suspicious activities of any kind to school and district administrators. Every student should identify at least one adult at school and in the community to whom to go with concerns of threats. We are also in tune to students’ non-verbal cues for help, and encourage them to express needs to gain reassurance. We have trained counselors who can help students with special needs and concerns.
We encourage our families and community to limit television viewing of tragic events and be aware of screenplay in common areas. Unnecessary exposure to tragic events can cause anxiety or confusion, particularly in young children. Adults also need to be mindful of the conversational speech and limit students’ exposure to hateful speech.
It is always a good idea to maintain a normal routine, which is reassuring and promotes physical health. Children always need to get plenty of sleep, regular meals, and exercise. Keeping up with schoolwork and extracurricular activities is healthy, and we recommend paying careful attention and being sensitive to students who are overwhelmed by the events.
View our Safety web page here: https://www.ortn.edu/safety/.
This article was submitted by Holly Cross.
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