Parents React In Days Following Sandy Hook Shootings

By
Fred Kight

Dateline
Updated Mon, Dec 17, 2012 4:10 pm

The drop-off area for students at The Plains Elementary School looked as it usually does Monday morning, but the rampage shooting last week prompted strong emotions and concern for parents.

Cars rolled up and kids got out to go into school and mothers and fathers said their good-byes, knowing the scene was much different at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.

Parent Jona Moberg wanted "normalcy" today and did not want to keep her daughter at home.

"Kids are resilient. She goes off and her day begins and we've really not had the news on. We've not wanted our children to be inundated by everything. She knows what happened, but that's about all," said Moberg.

James Holland was dropping his son off for school.

"My son is in his grandmother's class and she's pretty safety conscious. She's one of the senior teachers so she's well-versed in the security system," said Holland.
 
He admitted he wished the doors had automatic locks instead of key locks, "but at least the teachers have the key on them to lock their door quickly."
 
Holland says his wife works at the school as a substitute teacher and knows the safety measures as well.  He says he believes the school is pretty secure. 
 
He, like many parents, say they were wary in the hours following the Friday morning shooting. 
 
"That very night, afterwards, there was an event here and there were less people here than normal for the actual school activity afterwards and I don't know if it was the weather or people just didn't want their kids hanging out here after school," said Holland.

Ann Cunningham is a teacher at The Plains. She says an email from the school psychologist advised teachers how to react if students wanted to talk about the Connecticut killings.

"The suggestions was to allow them to bring it up, of course, should it come up in the classroom. Talk about their concerns, how they're feeling and not give them any false sense of security, but say what we're doing here at the school to keep them safe as best we can, but not give a false sense of security," said Cunningham.

Principal Heather Skinner says security at The Plains Elementary is good and they have safety drills occasionally to be prepared.

Skinner says the last one was Thursday, just a day before the tragedy in Connecticut.

"There were some things from that that we can learn and we're going to practice again and make sure that we know what we're doing here," said Skinner.
 
Skinner says she hasn't fielded many parent concerns, but she wants parents to know their children are safe.
 
The school's safety procedures have adapted over time, says Skinner, especially with parents walking their children to classrooms. 
 
Skinner's message to her teachers asked them to be honest with students, should the topic come up. 
 
"I think the biggest question kids are going to ask is 'can it happen here?' And I think that it's something that we tend to say "oh it can never happen here'. We talked a lot about how a tornado could never happen here and, by golly, a few years ago we had a tornado. So we just need to be honest with the kids and reassure them that's why we do the safety drills and that's why we ask them to huddle in a corner somewhere and wait for the all clear sign. I think we just have to be honest as much as we can," said Skinner. 
 
Skinner did tell teachers to keep information to a minimum, out of respect to parents who want to handle the situation at home.
 

 

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