Below is a message from Dr. Condon regarding the recent shooting in Uvalde, TX:
By now, most of us have heard about the tragic killings at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX, of 21 individuals, including 19 children and two teachers. Numerous others were wounded. The gunman was only 18 years old. This event is so tragic on so many levels. To have this horrible event occur in an elementary school only deepens the emotional turmoil of this act and brings this nightmare closer to our daily lives. To say that the community of Uvalde is in our hearts and prayers seems to be such an inadequate response to this senseless incident.
While this tragedy affects everyone across our society, please know that District 90 has had extensive safety plans prepared to respond to emergency situations of various types for many years. Developed and revised annually in partnership with the River Forest Police and Fire Departments, these plans stipulate the regular practice of our safety drills and emergency exercises with students and staff. The D90 emergency plans address numerous potential situations, including (but not limited to) response to unauthorized school access, hard and soft lockdowns, suspicious persons/activity, bus accidents, missing/abducted children, facility emergencies, and weather emergencies. Further, we remain vigilant in the implementation of our security protocols, including (but not limited to) maintaining secure access, visitor control, monitoring student whereabouts, and internal safety procedures that remain confidential to school employees. In 2019, the Board of Education approved an extensive Safety Plan that dedicated resources to physically hardening D90 facilities, including the installation of additional surveillance cameras, lighting, replacement classroom locks, and communication technology. Our relationship and established protocols with the River Forest Police and Fire Departments remain essential. Our annual safety meeting between District 90 administrators and the leadership of our local public safety departments to review our Emergency Procedure Protocols recently occurred on May 17, 2022. Finally, key staff members have been finalizing the details of our Behavioral Threat Assessment Team (BTAT) plan for the coming year, including a representative from the River Forest Police Department. While we hope the need for this resource is limited, the BTAT is designed to provide channels for members of the school community to share safety concerns anonymously and ensure responsive procedures for investigation, collaborative response, and processes to provide support for individuals demonstrating the need for mental health/wellness services.
While no amount of planning will ever guarantee the complete and total safety of our schools, please know that student and staff safety remains our top concern.
As teachers, staff members, and family members, we may be struggling with our own feelings at this time. However, it is important to address the concerns of the children in our lives and help them process the situation. The National Association of School Psychologists offers suggestions to help adults address these concerns with children. Please review this article for recommendations and guidance on talking with children about this and similar events.
Please know that the social workers and psychologists in our schools are available for students or staff members who may be struggling with this situation. Our school Principals have offered spaces and guidance for staff on appropriately addressing the situation with students. If you have any special concerns about your children, please don’t hesitate to contact your child’s teacher, building principal, or me directly.
Thank you for your strength, understanding, and fortitude during this horrific tragedy. Our children rely on us for their emotional stability during such times. We will persevere.