Oak Park schools leaders respond to Connecticut massacre
Updated: January 21, 2013 2:24PM
OAK PARK — Oak Park and River Forest schools officials expressed shock and sympathy Friday in the wake of the shooting deaths of nearly 30 people, including 20 school children, at a Connecticut elementary school.
They said they also are prepared to provide assistance to students and parents needing help dealing with trauma or concern.
“We’re shocked and saddened by the tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School,” District 97 communications director Chris Jasculca said.
He reported that the district sent out an email to all parents Friday afternoon assuring them that the school district had a comprehensive response policy in place to guard against and respond to such incidents.
District 90 Superintendent Edward Condon said his district also sent an email to parents, both to outline elements of the district’s security plan and to offer help in talking with their children about Friday’s horrific events.
“We want to provide suggestions on how to talk with their children about this very sensitive issue,” said Condon.
Jasculca said he spoke with several parents Friday who insisted they wanted to be the ones to bring up the news of the school killings with their own children.
“They felt strongly they wanted to be the ones to talk with their children and answer any questions they may have,” Jasculca explained.
While District 200 responded somewhat differently in the immediate wake of the incident, they too will work to assure their students and parents that they are prepared as best they can be to deal with a similar incident here.
Karin Sullivan, director of communications and community relations at Oak Park River Forest High School District 200, said officials there opted not to inform parents or students of the massacre, on grounds that doing so on an incident so distant might only be “alarming and upsetting.”
“Rather than disrupt the school day, we opted to not send out an email,” said Sullivan. “If it was a school in the local area or Chicago, we might put out an announcement.”
All three school officials said their districts are prepared to respond to any concerns by students, parents or staff.
“We always have our counselors and social workers available,” Sullivan said.
“We’ll be ready first thing on Monday morning to (counsel) any students, staff members or parents who need it,” said Jasculca.