Dear WPS Families and Staff,
We are communicating to you about the events yesterday in Uvalde, Texas, where a school shooting occurred in an elementary school where a gunman killed 19 students and two adults. We recognize that this is recent information and acknowledge that news and details of the incident will evolve in the coming days. We are obviously devastated to hear about the mass shooting in Uvalde yesterday. Our hearts go out to these students, families, school staff, and the community. Like many of you, we worry about the frequency of these events across our country, and understand the anxiety that many of our students, staff and families may be experiencing. We want to assure you that safety is our highest priority, and we update our procedures and responses as local law enforcement officials learn more about responses to these types of situations. Specifically, we wanted to take this opportunity to share just a few of our procedures with you.
● The Westfield police department (WPD) is present in our schools, and they will continue to monitor any potential threats. We collaborate closely with the WPD, and they run drills in our schools during school and off school hours. Additionally, we have monitoring tools to monitor for threats.
● The district and our schools have developed Multi-Hazard Emergency Operations Plans. These plans were created in coordination with local police, fire and emergency management departments, and their extensive training and guidance has been at the forefront of our plans.
● During the 2014-15 school year, our district implemented the ALICE protocol as a response to any potential armed intruder. ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate) is designed to provide comprehensive preparedness in the event of an intruder in one of our schools. The goal is to utilize infrastructure, technology, and human action to increase overall student and staff safety. Our staff receive annual training in this protocol, and we supplement this training with periodic drills and scenarios to further increase our preparedness. Each school has a crisis committee, a safety committee, and response teams. Currently, more than 900 schools, businesses, universities, hospitals, and municipalities have adopted the ALICE protocol.
Given our students’ exposure to technology, many of them have likely seen information about the tragedy in Uvalde, so this will no doubt be top-of-mind discussion among families throughout the nation for weeks to come. Our staff and counselors will be available for students in school as needed, and we have provided you with a link to a resource that might support you as you process this event with your child(ren). Please reach out to one of your child’s counselors or administrators if you feel your child needs specific support in processing this incident. National Association of School Psychologists: Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers
We hope that you will help us in reassuring your children that we have many safety protocols in place. Our staff will continue to work closely with our students and families when they are experiencing difficult situations, and we always encourage all members of our community to speak up when they have a concern. Please be assured that emergency preparedness continues to be a top priority across our district and each of our schools.
Superintendent of Schools
Westfield Public Schools