Mansfield Superintendent Fred Baruzzi released the following statement Sunday to the Mansfield Public Schools community.
Dear Parents and Guardians,
Across the state tomorrow, parents will send their children off to school and will think about families in Newtown. We want you to know that we have worked over this weekend to be sure your children remain well protected and emotionally safe.
While it may be difficult for some, we encourage you to send your child to school tomorrow. Students will benefit from the comfort their routine brings and any fears some of them may have will lessen with the familiarity of school.
We want you to be aware of the plans we have in place for tomorrow. Students will be greeted by the principal and staff when they get off the bus or arrive by car. We anticipate a state police presence during arrival. Exchanges between officers and students will be friendly and meant as a way to reassure students they are here to help. Additional safety measures will be in place and the district will continue to work closely with local law enforcement and town officials to learn from recent events and adjust our response.
The school day will open with a brief moment of silence for the Newtown victims. While we will not initiate formal discussions about the events of last Friday, we know that many students will have questions and concerns they will want to share. Please see below the guiding principles that all Mansfield staff members received this evening in preparation for tomorrow.
We are aware that there are families who have not discussed any of the events of Friday with their children and we respect their decision. However, it will be impossible to keep children who have heard about events from wanting to talk and process their feelings. We will not discourage those students who want to talk from doing so as these discussions are best done with caring adults who are thoughtful in their response rather than with peers on the bus or at recess.
Counselors and support staff will be available throughout the week to talk with children who may be having particular fears or worries. Parents are encouraged to call the school if you become concerned about any changes in your child's behavior or if you simply want to talk through what you are hearing. Our town Youth Service Bureau (860-429-3319), and resources from the University of Connecticut and area mental health agencies, are available for additional assistance to families. We look forward to a safe and uneventful school day tomorrow.
Guiding Principles for Mansfield Staff
Because we don't know what level of concern our students will bring to school on Monday, we have decided not to initiate discussion about the Newtown incident. Rather we will follow our children's lead. All families will process this in a different way and we need to respect that. Some parents have requested that we not discuss this at school at all. Others have been openly discussing the tragedy this weekend. Our approach will be to listen to comments and concerns in individual conversations and class meetings, and respond in ways that reassure our students and validate their feelings.
· Please keep your routine on Monday as normal as possible.
· Model calm and control.
· Be reassuring.
· Monitor your own stress level. You will be better able to support your children if you can express your own emotions in a productive manner. Seek assistance as needed.
· Keep your responses developmentally appropriate, for example - elementary children need fewer details.
· Observe children's' emotional state, looking for children at greater risk. If concerns arise attempt to better understand (i.e.: what are you wondering about). Support Staff are available to assist you.
· If students raise concerns about safety, assure children that they are safe and that schools are well prepared to take care of them.
· Additional resources have been posted on the District web-site.
· Mansfield Patch has information about contributions.
· Employee Assistance - 860-564-6100