WASHOE COUNTY, Nev. - School counselors are available to help students and staff members across the Washoe County School District in the wake of the tragedy at a Connecticut elementary school last week.
School police officers are also available to answer questions about specific safety measures at individual schools designed to prepare students and staff for any emergency.
"We are deeply saddened to hear about the tragedy in Connecticut," said Superintendent Pedro Martinez. "The safety of our children and staff is always a top priority, and we work diligently to ensure our classrooms and schools remain secure at all times. Our hearts are with our colleagues and the entire community in Newtown, Connecticut."
"We have a highly-trained team of professionals that is committed to doing everything possible to keep our schools safe," said Washoe County School Police Chief Mike Mieras. "We continue to work with our school family of staff members and students on training and safety measures to be used in the event of any emergency. We are working to promote a culture where everyone has a responsibility to be vigilant and focused on safety.
"We urge students, parents, and community members to contact us if they see any suspicious activity or have any concerns. Students may call School Secret Witness at 329-6666 and provide confidential information, or text information to us if they have any concerns or suspicions."
The Washoe County School District has security measures in place at all schools:
• In 2011-2012, WCSD began instituting a SIRT (School Incident Response Team) program at schools. These teams are comprised of the principal and staff members who are trained in medical emergencies, logistics, and sheltering in case of any emergency.
• WCSD holds regular evacuation, earthquake, and safety drills supported by ongoing training at every school in the District.
• Officer Tracy Moore is assigned as a full-time emergency manager for WCSD. He is a specially trained in emergency management, and coordinates emergency procedures, drills, and training sessions in all schools and District offices.
• School police officers regularly patrol campuses to watch for any signs of suspicious activity and provide assistance as needed.
• All visitors are required to check in at the school office.
• All outside doors and gates are secured during school hours.
• All staff members are trained to identify and report any suspicious activity immediately.
• There is an established Code Blue Team at every school, comprised of clinical aides and staff members who are trained in CPR.
"All of us - adults and children alike - are struggling to process what happened," said Katherine Loudon, coordinator of counseling services for WCSD. "Children have fears and concerns, and parents can help by answering their questions with honest information that is appropriate for their age. Counselors will remain at schools to provide help, reassurance, and support to students and staff."
Additionally, counselors are encouraging parents to help their children cope with their feelings and fears in the following ways:
• Keep routines as normal as possible. Children gain security from the predictability of routine, including attending school.
• Limit children's exposure to television and the news.
• Be honest with children and share as much information with them as they are developmentally able to handle.
• Listen to their fears and concerns.
• Reassure children that the world is a good place to be, but that there are people who do bad things.
• Parents should help children reaffirm positive attachments and relationships in their lives.
The Washoe County School District has set up a link on its website which contains resources for parents, students, and staff. Visit http://www.washoe.k12.nv.us/community/school-safety-resources?_lang=en for more information.
Parents who have questions and concerns may contact their children's school counselor, principal, or teacher for information and help. There are also a number of resources online for parents and their children, including:
- This article was emailed to the Bonanza on Monday by the Washoe County School District. For more information, visit a.