Safety & Awareness at ZPS
We are deeply saddened to hear about the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. During this time of heightened awareness, it is important to remind our parents of procedures in place throughout our own district, and provide resources to those who may be struggling with news of this devastating event.
Our priority remains to provide quality education in an environment where all students are safe, valued and loved. To coincide with this, ZPS has procedures in place for all emergency situations, including immediate lock down, tornado, fire, chemical spill or evacuations. All emergency plans are reviewed, practiced by students and staff, and logged to verify procedures remain clear and effective over time.
In addition, further security measures have been recently enacted district-wide. New this year is an electronic finger print scan for all visitors. This program is available through a local company called Acink. Visitors provide a finger scan in exchange for a name badge, a requirement to enter all ZPS buildings.
Building renovations around the district are also providing additional security measures. Recent updates at ECC and New Groningen, along with the new construction of Adams provide secure entrance features where visitors can only enter through the main office.
In addition to our safety features, ZPS encourages a normal routine this week, a recommended way of promoting feelings of safety and calmness among children. ZPS has an experienced staff of school psychologists, social workers and counselors working together to ensure students are reacting in an appropriate way, and responding to those who need assistance.
Additionally, several tips through The American Psychological Association (APA) have been posted for parents. We share these with you and recommend you refer to www.nasponline.org for further reading.
Talk with your child - If children ask questions, talking to them about their worries and concerns is the first step to help them feel safe and begin to cope with the events occurring around them. What you talk about and how you say it does depend on their age, but all children need to be able to know you are there and listening to them.
Keep home a safe place - Children, regardless of age, often find home to be a safe haven when the world around them becomes overwhelming. During times of crisis, it is important to remember that your children may come home seeking the safe feeling they have being there.
Watch for signs of stress, fear or anxiety - After a traumatic event, it is typical for children (and adults) to experience a wide range of emotions including fearfulness, shock, anger, grief and anxiety. Your children's behaviors may change because of their response to the event. They may experience trouble sleeping, difficulty with concentrating on schoolwork, or changes in appetite. This is normal for everyone and should begin to disappear in a few months.
Take "news breaks" - Your children may want to keep informed by gathering information about the event from the internet, television, or newspapers. It is important to limit the amount of time spent watching the news because constant exposure may actually heighten their anxiety and fears.
As a district, we grieve with Sandy Hook and for all the families impacted by this tragedy.