Tiverton schools commit to safety plans, counseling

TIVERTON — Responding to the events in Newtown, Conn., last Friday, Tiverton School Superintendent William Rearick posted a “Dear Parents” announcement on the school website affirming the school department’s commitment to student security.

“Please be advised that the Tiverton School Department makes our children’s security its top priority,” Mr. Rearick said. “We will continue to follow our school’s safety protocols which have been reviewed by and approved by the Tiverton Police Department. These plans are reviewed periodically by administrators, teachers, and support staff.”

Tiverton Police Chief Thomas Blakey said Monday that the police department has an “an active shooter protocol” and that the school department has “lockdown procedures.” The police department, he said, “does train and remains as ready as possible, and is as prepared as we can be for this type of scenario.”

He said the department communicates and works regularly  with other departments in the region and across the country in developing its ability to be able to respond to such crises. He also said the department is trying to maintain a school resource officer on at least a part-time basis.

Mr. Rearick said in his weekend announcement that “all principals will be meeting with their entire faculty and staff early on Monday morning before students arrive to discuss how to be prepared for students. Teachers will be briefed on how to best handle any questions students may have as a result of this tragedy. Guidance counselors, our school nurse, and others will be available and accessible in our building to respond to children’s concerns and needs as necessary and appropriate.”

Mr. Rearick said, “If any parents have concerns regarding how their children may be dealing with the what happened, they should contact their child’s principal, teacher, or guidance counselor.”

Mr. Rearick and other superintendents from Little Compton, Portsmouth, and Middletown talked Friday as each school department prepared its response.

Little Compton Superintendent Kathryn Crowley identified two websites that carry advice about how to talk to children about such tragedies:

From the National Association of School Psychologists: http://www.nasponline.org/resources/crisis_safety/talkingviolence.pdf

A Bradley Hospital site about talking with children about tragedies:

http://www.bradleyhospital.org/parenting-resources/talking-with-kids/tragedy

 In a personal statement, Superintendent Rearick said, “I am deeply saddened by what took place Friday. I can’t imagine what the parents who lost a child in this senseless act of violence are going through. They along with the children and adults who survived this tragedy are in my thoughts and prayers.”
Tiverton school committee chairwoman Sally Black said, “it’s just devastating. It makes it clear that it can happen anywhere. Parents have to be reassured that safety always comes first.”

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