Dear Watervliet families,
The news of a school shooting in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas yesterday is yet another senseless and tragic act that has become far too prevalent in our world. Our hearts break for the families and friends of the 19 young children, and two devoted teachers who lost their lives.
There are no words, no answers – only sorrow, outrage and frustration about this tragedy, as well as the horrific violence 11 days ago at the Tops grocery store in Buffalo that took 10 lives and has devastated families and the community who continue to grapple with this unconscionable act.
It is likely the tragedies in Buffalo and Uvalde will remain the focus of news stories in the days and weeks to come. Stories like these, which have become all too common in today’s society, can cause distress, fear and anxiety in children. We encourage you to monitor your children’s exposure to the news and discuss their concerns in age-appropriate ways at home. School counselors and social workers are available for students having difficulty today and every day. If your child needs to speak with someone at school about these events, please contact the school main office and we will connect you with someone who can provide support.
If your children have questions about these incidents at home, you may find the following resources helpful:
Talking to Children about Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers (National Association of School Psychologists)
Nine Tips for Talking With Kids about Trauma (Greater Good Science Center, UC Berkeley)
Please know the administrative team and I continuously seek ways to better safeguard the health and well-being of our students and staff, and I want to reassure you that safety and security are always at the forefront of the decisions we make in our schools. We have protocols in place to keep students and staff safe and our buildings secure. We keep our exterior school doors locked, have visitor protocols in place and each school building has a single point of entry that is monitored by staff. Security cameras are used in our school buildings and on school grounds, and we routinely practice lockdowns and other safety drills to ensure students and staff know what to do in the event of an emergency.
We work collaboratively with our community partners in the Watervliet Police Department to share information to keep our schools as safe as possible, and our School Resource Officer Tito Negron is a presence in our schools several days per week.
Finally, I remind our students, families and staff: if you see something out of the ordinary, say something. We want everyone in our community to feel comfortable reporting concerns to us. I encourage families and students to reach out to me or your building principal if you have questions or if we can be of any assistance to you.
With much appreciation and gratitude,
Dr. Donald Stevens
Superintendent of Schools
(This message was shared with WCSD families via One Call Now email on May 25, 2022)