We in Cambridge and Isanti are deeply saddened to hear about the shooting in Connecticut. Our thoughts and prayers are with those families and their community. There has been, and will continue to be, extensive news coverage, as well as discussion in our communities in the coming days.
I want everyone to know safety is a priority in our schools and we are continually taking measures to keep children safe. We have a safety plan in place, which is reviewed and updated on an annual basis. Our administrators are meeting this week to continue this discussion and review the plans currently in place. Cambridge-Isanti has school resource officers (police officer) on duty throughout the school day, who are also part of the assessment and planning team.
Below are some tips from the National Association of School Psychologists for helping children cope with news such as this.
What Parents Can Do:
1. Focus on your children. Tell them you love them and everything will be okay. Try and help them understand what has happened, keeping in mind their developmental and age level.
2. Make time to talk. Remember if you do not talk to your children someone else will. Take time and decide what you will say.
3. Stay close to your children. Your physical presence reassures them and gives you the opportunity to monitor their reaction. Many children will want actual physical contact. Give plenty of hugs. Let them sit close to you. Take extra time at bedtime to cuddle and tell them they are loved and safe.
4. Limit your child’s television viewing of the event. If they must watch, watch with them for a brief time; then turn the television off. Do not sit mesmerized re-watching the same events again and again.
5. Maintain a “normal” routine. Stick to your family’s normal routine for dinner, homework, chores, bedtime, etc., but don’t be inflexible. Children may have a hard time concentrating on schoolwork or falling asleep at night.
6. Spend extra time reading or playing quiet games before bed. These activities are calming and foster a sense of closeness and security. Spend more time tucking them in. Let them sleep with a light on if they ask.
7. Safeguard your children’s physical health. Stress can take a physical toll on children and adults. Make sure your children get appropriate sleep, exercise, and nutrition.
8. Consider praying or thinking hopeful thoughts for the victims and their families. It may be a good time to take your children to a place of worship, write a poem, or draw a picture to help them express their feelings and feel they are supporting the victims and their families.
9. School is a good place for children to regain a sense of normalcy. Being with friends and teachers can help.
Cambridge-Isanti has administrators, teachers, counselors, psychologists and social workers to help you and your children. If you have concerns, please contact your child’s teacher, principal or assistant principal.
Bruce A. Novak is the superintendent of the Cambridge-Isanti School District.