UNION — Counselors are available but there have been no requests for extra counseling at Union County’s schools in the wake of the school shooting at a Connecticut elementary school, Superintendent Dr. Kristi Woodall said Monday.
On Friday, a man forced his way into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and shot and killed 20 schoolchildren, five teachers and the school’s principal. The gunman, who later committed suicide, had already killed his mother at their home before breaking into the school.
The massacre has drawn national attention and Woodall said Monday morning that she was contacting the principals of the district’s eight schools to see if there had been any requests for additional counseling for the students.
Her office later reported that there had been none and Woodall said this might be due to the fact that the students were home over the weekend.
“It happened on Friday and the children were home with their families, with their parents for the past two days,” Woodall said. “Parents and families are the best counselors when children are upset or have questions.”
While they are apparently not needed, Woodall said there are counselors on hand in the schools and through the district, as well as volunteer counselors.
“There is at least one counselor at each school and some have teams of counselors and we also have a district psychologist,” Woodall said. “We are also very fortunate in our community to have volunteer preachers who assist us as well.”
In addition to having counselors available to help students cope with traumatic experiences, Woodall said the district has also developed a crisis management plan to ensure student safety.
“We have a very detailed crisis management plan in place,” Woodall said. “All teachers and staff members are trained it its implementation. We have annual practices and inspections on implementation of those procedures and we also have surprise inspections during the year.
“We also work very closely with law enforcement,” she said. “We welcome their advice on how to improve our safety plan.”
Woodall said her commitment to keeping students safe is not only a professional one but a personal one as well.
“I’m a mother too, and my children are in the system, so I’m very concerned about their safety as I am all children’s,” Woodall said. “Our schools are safe and we’re going to keep them safe.”
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