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December 14, 2012

Area schools talk response to school shooting

Greater Clark, West Clark say communication with students depends on age

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Schools across Southern Indiana — like the rest of the public — were moved by hearing of the tragic loss of life following a Friday shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn, that killed 26 people, including 20 children.

The killer, armed with two handguns, committed suicide and another person was found dead at a second scene, bringing the toll to 28, authorities said.

Locally, the response in terms of communicating with students about the tragedy was dependent on age.

Chris Ralston, Greater Clark County Schools Safety Specialist, said when incidents like the shooting in Connecticut occur, the school corporation will “communicate to the students through the teacher.”

He added that it is dependent upon the grade level of the children as to whether or not incidents like school shootings are discussed. Ralston said at the high school level talk, teachers will talk to the students a little bit more. For elementary school ages, it is common for the teachers to allow parents the chance to talk to their kids about such incidents.

In an age of technology and smartphones, he added that often the high school students will know as much, or more than the teachers and administrators through things like text alerts.

Monty Schneider, superintendent at West Clark Community Schools, agreed that school children often find out through social media, while a different response is offered for elementary school children.

In response to the Connecticut school shooting, Silver Creek Elementary School Principal David E. Losey sent a letter to the students’ parents.

In part, the letter read, “our safety plan calls for complete lockdown in any shooter emergency. We would work with the Sellersburg Police and the Indiana State Police to move from the ‘lockdown’ school to a separate safe location. If ... students and staff move to either emergency relocation site, parents will be reunited with their child or children at the relocation site. Parents will have to provide a picture identification at the relocation desk.”

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