Naperville schools say students quiet about Newtown shooting
By Susan Frick Carlman email@example.com December 18, 2012 10:52PM
Updated: January 20, 2013 6:11AM
Many Naperville parents apparently have managed to steer their young children clear of excessive anxiety stemming from the mass school shootings Friday in Connecticut.
Spokeswomen for Naperville School District 203 and Indian Prairie School District 204 said things were quiet Monday in the offices of school social workers and psychologists. Both districts had announced they would have support teams in place to help students process their feelings about the tragedy if needed.
“Our social workers reported no significant number of students wanting to talk yesterday,” Indian Prairie communications director Janet Buglio said in an email.
Social workers in some of the Naperville schools deferred questions to Susan Rice, communications director for District 203, who reported similar activity levels in that school system.
“After a day, our social workers report no significant increase in contacts,” Rice wrote in an email Tuesday morning. “A few parents inquired about guidance on ways to talk to their child. Most elementary level parents have indicated that they do not want this discussion to take place in school and the principals and teachers have been sensitive to this concern.”
The experience in the city’s schools parallels that seen elsewhere in the area.
“I’ve walked around buildings, met with principals and teachers, and they’ve said the kids haven’t said anything,” Hinckley-Big Rock Superintendent Pete Pasteris said Monday. “Even in the high school cafeteria, the kids aren’t talking about it.”
Pasteris said he hoped the quiet indicated that parents talked to their children over the weekend about Friday morning’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School — that students and their families may not have made sense of the tragedy, but they’re moving on.
At the classroom level, instructors were prepared to provide support geared toward the maturity of their audiences.
“Following suggestions from mental health experts, teachers will be advised to respond to questions truthfully, but with the appropriate amount of detail so that questions and concerns are addressed without putting (undue) focus on the event,” a Talk203 message emailed to parents Sunday evening said. “Any concerns will be communicated to you, the parent.”
Rice said administrators and families continued to scrutinize ways to bolster student safety. All public schools conduct mandated safety drills to help students and staff members equip themselves with the response capabilities that could be needed in a catastrophe.
“We do drills all the time,” said Pasteris. “You never can be 100 percent prepared for everything that can happen, but you try.”
Sun-Times Media staff writer Jenette Sturges contributed to this story.