P.E.I. schools offer support to students in wake of U.S. tragedy

Nancy MacPhee
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Before classes began Monday educators were provided with links to online resource material and information to help them in answering questions raised by students.

A mother hugs her daughter following a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., about 60 miles (96 kilometers) northeast of New York City, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. A gunman entered the school Friday morning and killed at least 26 people, including 20 young children.

The devastating mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, has prompted school officials here to provide parents with tools to help children who may be left with questions in the wake of the tragedy.

Friday, a lone gunman went into Sandy Hook Elementary and gunned down 20 children aged six and seven and six staff in what is now the second deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.

Here, on P.E.I. educators were shocked by the events south of the border.

“It’s a terrible tragedy. Our hearts are just like stone over the whole incident,” said English Language School Board superintendent Jane McMillan. “In our schools, our job is to model calm and control and reassure children they are safe and that school is safe and remind them that there are trustworthy, good people in charge and that everything is OK.”

Before classes began Monday educators were provided with links to online resource material and information to help them in answering questions raised by students.

Those links are posted on the Eastern School District’s website for parents to access.

McMillan said the actions of the teachers and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary were heroic and the loss of “these beautiful children” devastating.

In Island schools, procedures are in place to deal with emergency situations.

“We do have a very comprehensive lockdown policy, which has been in place since 2008. These policies originated as part of the National Safe Schools Campaign that was led by the RCMP and by municipal police forces across the country,” explained McMillan. “The policy requires that our schools practice a lockdown twice a year. There’s a very specific procedure for undertaking the lockdown. Our schools are well versed in it.”

She’s confident that staff at all Island schools are confident in these procedures and know exactly what to do in the case of an emergency.

But, added McMillan, “In the case of the tragedy that just happened it’s very difficult to plan for every eventuality.”

“I think the staff acted as quickly and heroically as anyone could imagine to try and save as many children as they could.”

Lockdown drills have already been held at many Island schools already this year.

“We would certainly be mindful of having one very quickly in the new year. We always have one in the first term and one in the second term and we will be reminding our schools of our lockdown procedures,” said McMillan. “We want our schools to be safe environments for our children. We understand how important that is for our school community.”

She encourages parents to be mindful of their children’s concerns in light of the events in Newtown and to take a little extra time to spend with their children.

“Make time for them, maintain a normal routine, spend a little extra time reading or playing quite games, just being close and giving the message everything is OK, I’m still here, your school is still here and you’re safe.”


For more information, visit www.edu.pe.ca/esd or www.edu.pe.ca/wsb


Organizations: English Language School Board, National Safe Schools Campaign, RCMP

Geographic location: U.S., Iceland, Newtown, Connecticut Newtown

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Recent comments

  • kyle
    December 19, 2012 - 05:38

    What feelly touchy silliness. No wonder kids come out of scholl unaware of reading, writing and arithemetic. It is utter arrogance of the education monopoly to think that parents cannot handle any unlikely questions that young children might have about the horrific events in Connecticut. As for the children being traumatized, they see this stuff in movies and on TV daily. Those who think kids are wired into the story are projecting their statist agenda onto their charges and abusing the children thereby. Parents are the best educators for emotional responses. Common sense and moral values do not require an education degree and too often are hampered by the possession of one. The Church is a better educator in spiritual crises than the schools which make an industry out of curing nonexisting emotional maladies. More children were hurt by this nonsense than helped. This sort of rubbish is more about the egotistical self righteousness of the educational establishment than it is of any real benefit to the children. So rampant has this sort of frivilousness become that that home schooling is becoming an imperitive. This is shoddy moral posturing, not education. Memo to the teachers' union: Get back to reading, writing and arithmetic.

  • don
    December 18, 2012 - 13:48

    JOHN GETSON. i agree with you fully but lets go one step farther if the gun they own is used in a crime wither it is murder or robbery then they are also charged with the same crime.

  • John Getson
    John Getson
    December 18, 2012 - 12:38

    "Since gun owners insist on their right to own and use guns let them pay for bio-metric "lockouts" that limit the use of guns to the registered owner of that gun... cost to include not only the research and development of the "lockout", the installation and programming of l/o but also an insurance premium for any claims of damages caused by any mis-use of the firearm"

  • don
    December 18, 2012 - 11:16

    i feel sorry and my prayers go out to all. but how is our kids protected here? they had locked doors. but he just shot out the window.lock down LOL. if a killer wants in he/she will get in. so tell me dizzy how are you going to protect our kids and remember you have 2 kids that will be going to school and by the time they reach school age this will be a reg thing here in Canada. tell us what are you going to do?