“As students returned to classrooms Monday morning, we focused on supporting students through maintaining our normal instructional programs and addressed individual student fears and anxieties through connections to school counselors and administrators,” said Jeff Clance, Director of Student Services for Gordon County Schools.
“Parent questions and concerns were addressed at the school and central office level, and school counselors were available to provide parents with resources to support their child at home as well.”
Clance said district leaders were grief stricken at the events in Newtown and are continuing to focus on ways to prevent such a thing for happening here.
“We have and will continue to make student safety a priority,” he said. “Each school has established an emergency response plan that is reviewed at least annually by GEMA and local emergency management services.
“School administrators also ensure that faculty and staff are aware of the plan and drills are conducted periodically throughout the school year. Visitors to our schools are required to check in at the main office when arriving on campus and may enter other areas of the building only when authorized.”
Clance pointed to a cooperative relationship with the Gordon County Sheriff’s Office as a major factor in student safety.
“We are fortunate to have a wonderful relationship with the Gordon County Sheriff’s Department,” he said. “School resource officers are stationed at each of our high school / middle school campuses and routinely make themselves available to our elementary schools.
“In the wake of tragedies such as this, communities often become hypervigilant only to have this diligence wane as the days pass,” he added. “GCS continually encourages students, faculty, staff, and the community to be constantly aware of their environment and make school officials aware of any safety or security concerns that may arise.”
Calhoun City Schools superintendent Michele Taylor expressed shock and sadness this week in response to the shootings.
“No words can adequately express the overwhelming grief and sadness we are experiencing in light of the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut last week,” she said. “Our hearts are heavy.”
Taylor also reiterated the district’s commitment to student safety.
“All of our schools have GEMA (Georgia Emergency Management Agency) approved safety plans and we continually update and re-evaluate them,” she said. “Our administrators met (this week) to discuss any new concerns regarding our safety procedures.
“We ask that all parents and individuals support our continued efforts to provide the safest environment for our children,” she added. “I want to reassure the entire school community of our continued commitment to the safety and security of our students, teachers, and staff. The safety of our students has always been and will continue to be our top priority.”
Taylor outlined some of the steps the district is undertaking to insure safety:
“Our local law enforcement stands ready to assist and will continue to be a visible presence in all of our schools,” Taylor said. “We have posted additional links on our school system website from the National Association of School Psychologists on how to talk to children about violence.
“I encourage everyone to take a moment to read these valuable resources as we move forward in helping our young people cope and try to understand this recent act of violence.”
For more information, visit the district websites at: http://gcbe.org and http://calhounschools.org.