School communities across the country are reeling after 19 students and two teachers were shot and killed inside a Texas elementary school on Tuesday.
Local school leaders and mayors have since been reaching out to students and parents, offering words of comfort and compassion and sharing resources to help those having trouble processing the horrific event.
Below, 12 News has compiled the responses from districts in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. This will be updated as more become available.
“As you probably know, there was a school shooting yesterday at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Our thoughts are with the Uvalde community and all those impacted by this horrific act.
“Please know that we remain committed to the safety and well-being of our students and staff members. The Burrillville School Department and Burrillville Police Department continue to collaborate and proactively address school and community security. There are a number of measures that are in place to ensure school safety. This includes a police presence at each school building at arrival and dismissal times, double-locked entrances in all schools, video camera surveillance, and communication systems in all school buildings. Additionally, there are ongoing meetings with our District Safety Committee to address concerns. The committee is composed of various stakeholders; this includes members of our respective town fire departments, Burrillville Police, school administrators, bus company officials, and other community members. As we head towards June, each school has many end-of-the-year events planned. You may notice an increased police presence during these times.
“If you or your child has any questions or concerns, please reach out directly to your school principal. Each school has appropriate support staff on-site to assist in addressing any anxiety (or other feelings) that your child may be experiencing as we all struggle to understand this tragic and senseless act of violence.”
“As you may be aware, there was a school shooting in our country yesterday. Our thoughts go out to all those affected by this tragic situation.
“Please be advised that we have been in communication with all three of our Police Departments which is continuously and proactively taking steps to address school and community security in numerous ways. We also work closely with our School Resource Officers. We have strong District and school safety teams that meet consistently to review all emergency and safety procedures along with many facility enhancements around school safety. Safety is our number one priority. Our teams are trained to handle a multitude of situations.
“If you or your child have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact your school principal at any time. Counselors and support services staff also are on-site at each school for your children to help with coping in this situation, or for any other need.”
“Dear parents and guardians,
“We are writing to you this afternoon to address the school shooting in Texas that happened yesterday at an elementary school. This is a horrific, tragic event, and we are keeping the students and families in Uvalde, Texas close to our hearts now and in the difficult days ahead.
“We would also like to take a moment to remind and reassure both you and your children that in our own schools we have security measures in place for this very reason. We ask that you work together with us to keep these safety measures working effectively as they are in place to protect the staff and the students alike.
- Do not let anyone into a school building that is not with you, even if you know them.
- Do not follow anyone into a school building if you haven’t been buzzed in by the office.
- Please go directly to the office and check in before going to a classroom.
- Do not prop our doors open.
- And finally, if you see something, say something. If you are in one of our buildings and you see someone walking around without visitor identification, please let the office know right away. It is always better to be overly cautious than not.
“Know that we have frequent Cranston Police Department patrol visits to our elementary schools and our School Resource Officers are all available to our elementary schools as well.
“This link provides you with a list of helpful children’s books for children who are dealing with anxiety and worry for any reason as well as books and workbooks for teens and tweens dealing with anxiety and worry. It also includes a book for parents whose children are dealing with anxiety, and a specific book for dealing with hearing media news that is scary. Additionally, here is a link for parents that discusses how to talk to your children about violence. and one specifically about talking to your children about community shootings. The American Psychological Association (APA) recommends honesty with children, acknowledging that bad things do happen, but reassuring them with the information that many people are working to keep them safe, including their parents, teachers, and law enforcement. The APA also advises limiting children’s exposure to news coverage following such traumatic events.”
The Cranston Public Schools Leadership Team
“Dear Students, Parents, and Staff,
“We are deeply saddened by the terrible tragedy that took place at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Our hearts go out to the students, families, faculty, police and medical respondents, and town residents.
“To ensure the safety of our school community, I have been in contact with our Police Chief, Matthew Benson. There will be an increased presence of police officers on school grounds and in the school buildings. This is to provide a sense of security and comfort for our students, families, staff, and faculty. The town and district have also invested in a Raptor app that is shared with all faculty that provides a quick, early alert for any incident within our schools. Our building administrators are always vigilant for unusual behaviors and maintaining building safety and they will continue to do so. Our school-based teams, which include mental health support, consistently meet to provide support plans for students experiencing distress. We strive to implement proactive measures and have well-established positive behavioral interventions and support in every school.
“Please know that school safety is first and foremost on our minds. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at my office.”
Philip D. Thornton, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
“Good morning, this is Dr. Di Lullo. On behalf of our school committee, school department, and our town, I offer our condolences to the families that experienced a profound loss yesterday in Uvalde Texas. It is incredible that these mass shootings still occur in our country and that so many people suffer as a result. To lose a child in any situation is unbearable but when these events occur, the sorrow is unimaginable. Our thoughts will be with this community in the days ahead. Johnston schools have counselors available for any student who may need support. Also, our principals will ensure that all safety protocols will be followed. Thank you to Chief Razza and the Johnston Police Department for their never-ending support of our schools as they will increase their presence in our community. Thank you for your attention and have a peaceful day.”
“The news of the horrific school shooting at an elementary school in Texas yesterday strikes all of us deeply – students, parents, teachers, and families. I know you join me in both grieving with the families who have lost a loved one and in wanting to ensure such a tragedy does not occur yet again.
“The safety of our students is always our first priority. We are fortunate in Narragansett to have two School Resource Officers who are in our schools every day. The Narragansett Police response time to any one of our schools is less than 60 seconds. Over the past several years, we have extensively upgraded the physical security infrastructure in our schools, including hardened entryways, “buzz in” systems to identify visitors and control access, and video surveillance systems. We have engaged in extensive training with staff and students regarding intruders and active shooters through the ALICE program. We also regularly engage in security reviews, crisis planning, and safety training. Finally, we participate in the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System, where threats or other dangerous behavior can be anonymously reported at any hour, and will be communicated to the Narragansett Police and to the schools. This system is linked on our webpage and the pages of each of our schools.
“An important element of school safety is having adequate mental health resources. Again, Narragansett is fortunate to have a full school psychologist in every school building as well as guidance counselors and a district social worker. All work as a team with our teachers and administrators to address student mental health needs. Additionally, we use the Comprehensive School Threat Assessment Protocol to identify and appropriately address potential threats to students, staff, and the school community.
“What we know from research and experience is that the best form of security is a positive school culture and supportive relationships with adults. We encourage students to tell an adult if they hear or see something (including on social media) that puts others in danger, and our students have responded positively and reach out when they feel something is not right. Likewise, we encourage parents and families to communicate with the school should there be worries about a student or incidents outside of school that may pose a danger to others.
“Our teachers are particularly attuned to the needs of our students, and have clear protocols and lines of communication when a student exhibits worrisome behavior or is in need of mental health support. We have strong partnerships with local agencies, and access additional state wide resources as needed.
“One question many parents may have is how to talk about this incident with their children. The National Association of School Psychologists has an excellent resource, linked here, that outlines age appropriate ways to discuss school violence. Their advice includes:
- Early elementary school students need brief, simple information that is balanced with reassurances that their school and homes are safe and that adults are there to protect them. Give simple examples of school safety that remind children about exterior doors being locked, child monitoring efforts on the playground, and emergency drills being practiced so they are prepared if something happens.
- Upper elementary and early middle school students will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what is being done at their school. They may need assistance separating reality from fantasy. Discuss efforts of school and community leaders to provide safe schools and provide concrete examples.
- Upper middle school and high school students will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence in schools and society. They will share concrete suggestions about how to make school safer and how to prevent tragedies in society. Emphasize the role that students have in maintaining safe schools by following school safety guidelines (e.g., not providing building access to strangers, reporting strangers on campus, reporting threats to the school safety made by students or community members, etc.), communicating any personal safety concerns to school administrators, and accessing support for emotional needs.
“We will do whatever it takes to ensure that all of the children of Narragansett are as secure as possible and are able to have the mental health supports necessary to lead healthy, happy lives. However, we need your partnership to keep everyone safe. Encourage children to recognize that there is a difference between reporting and tattling or gossiping. Our students can provide important information, either directly or anonymously, that may prevent harm by informing a trusted adult what he or she knows or hears.
“Beginning this morning, we will have extra police patrols and security presence in our schools. We will have our counselors and support staff available to students if they need to process their feelings, and our teachers are always available to connect with students and provide support. I encourage you to reach out to your school principal, school counselor, or me should your child or you have questions or concerns regarding school safety and security.”
Dr. Peter Cummings
“Good Morning NKSD Community,
“As I am sure many of you have heard by now there was a tragic school shooting in our country yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all affected by this tragedy.
“I write this email not only as the Interim Superintendent, but also as the father of three school aged children and the husband of an elementary school teacher. I share the same nervousness and anxiety that many of you are experiencing this morning as you send your children off to school. I have trust in my loved ones’ school districts that they are doing everything they can to keep them safe while they are in school and I am asking you to have the same trust in us.
“I have been in touch with the North Kingstown Police Department and they are always proactively and continuously working with the school department to keep our schools safe and secure. Each school has a school safety plan that is regularly reviewed and conducts regular safety drills. In conjunction with police department recommendations over the past several years, the School Committee has approved safety and security enhancements at all of our schools.
“To our school staff, thank you for everything you do everyday, thank you for putting the needs of our students before your own needs. I understand that the drills that are conducted 15 times per year are disruptive to the learning environment, but they are needed. I also understand that the safety protocols that have been put in place may be inconvenient, but again, they are needed. Please continue to follow the safety and security protocols that have been put in place, please continue to keep open lines of communication with the building leaders and to everyone reading this letter, if you see something, please say something. At our Middle and High Schools we participate in the See Something Say Something Anonymous Reporting System. At our Elementary Schools we ask that you let the building principal know of any concerns you may have.
“Please understand that as a safety measure we do not discuss or share the details of our safety plans, but our principals are available if you or your children have any questions or concerns. As always, we have counselors and support staff available to our students and staff should anyone require assistance coping with this tragedy or any other needs they may have. I have included a link and two attachments on how families can talk to children about violence in schools.”
- Kidslink: The free, confidential phone line, 1-855-543-5465, connects parents and caregivers to an experienced clinician that can help them access children’s services in Rhode Island, and determine the best place to go for treatment and counseling.
- For 18+: BH Link Hotline, (414-LINK; 414-5465): a one-stop, statewide 24/7 call-in center that connects people to appropriate care and resources, when they or someone they care about is experiencing a behavioral healthcare crisis
“Please understand that the safety of our students and staff is my number one priority and all matters regarding their safety are taken seriously.”
“The tragic news from Uvalde, Texas, on the heels of the last week’s terrible incident in Buffalo, has been difficult to absorb. Our thoughts are with all those who are dealing with the consequences of these latest events.
“I wanted to provide some reminders and updates related to school safety and security here in Portsmouth. Members of the Portsmouth Police Department will be increasing their presence in and around all of our schools for the foreseeable future. In addition, we have a School Resource Officer on duty at both our middle and high schools and a district-employed school safety officer in place at both of our elementary schools (both of these individuals are retired police officers). In addition to the regular contact that I maintain with Cheif Peters from the PPD, we have a District Safety Committee made up of school and district personnel as well as town safety representatives from police and fire. This committee meets regularly to review school safety and security topics. We follow Threat Assessment Guidelines issued by the Rhode Island Department of Education. Our district mental health staff plays a critical role in these procedures. The PPD has certified school safety experts who oversee our response efforts to prepare for incidents related to school violence and help us to coordinate required drills for these purposes.
“Prior to the start of the pandemic, PSD had launched the P3 Sandy Hook Promise Say Something Anonymous Reporting System. Recently, we relaunched this anonymous reporting tool for safety or security concerns. The link is available on our district website home page in the top right-hand corner. If a threat is deemed credible by P3 officials, the Portsmouth Police Department and PSD officials are immediately notified.
“Each school will be reemphasizing the importance of following all protocols and procedures we have in place to ensure the safety of all students and staff. Please reach out to your child’s principal or myself with any questions.”
With a heavy heart,
“We are all devastated by the horrific events in Uvalde, Texas, and our thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones.
“Given our students’ access to technology, many of them have likely seen information about the tragedy in Uvalde. Providence Public Schools has a number of new or expanded mental health resources, such as guidance counselors in all elementary schools for the first time this year. Our staff and counselors are always available for any students who need support. Please reach out to them for assistance if needed. Below are links to resources that might also support you as you process this event or if you choose to discuss it with your child(ren):
- National Association of School Psychologists: Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers
- National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Tips for Parents on Media Coverage
- Applicable tips from American Psychological Association: Helping Children Manage Stress in the Aftermath of a shooting
- Child Mind Institute: Helping Children Cope with Frightening News
“Sadly, we are seeing more of these tragic events across the country. I understand that many of our students, staff, and families may be experiencing anxiety right now. I want to assure you that safety is our highest priority. We update our emergency procedures and responses regularly, and test these procedures several times a year. We also collaborate closely with the Providence Police and Fire Departments to monitor building security and prepare for any threats, and Providence Police are providing an increased presence at our school buildings today. Providence Public Schools utilizes a system very similar to the ALICE protocol as a response to any potential armed intruder. This system is designed to provide comprehensive preparedness in the event of an intruder in one of our schools.
“I wish we lived in a world where such safety protocols were not necessary in our schools. But please know that our team is committed to working together to keep our students and community safe. Again, please do not hesitate to reach out to our schools’ support staff if you or your students are in need of assistance.”
With a heavy heart,
Dr. Javier Montañez, Superintendent
“It is with a heavy heart that I write to you the morning after the unthinkable tragedy in Texas yesterday. My thoughts and prayers are with the parents and fellow educators as they work through the next few months and healing process.
“You may have noticed a light increased police presence at our schools this morning. This was done in collaboration with the Scituate Police Department simply as an added measure of safety. Our schools, students and faculty are all safe. We have thorough school safety plans that have been reviewed and updated annually. We installed new cameras at the High School and Middle School this year to ensure our technology supports our safety plan appropriately. I am committed to ensuring that all schools have everything they need to ensure our faculty and student are safe.
“If students or staff are having difficulty today, we have counselors that will be available to support them. Thank you to our teachers, counselors, administrators and support professionals for keeping our students safe and supported during this difficult time in our Nation.”
Superintendent of Schools Scituate
“Dear Staff and Families,
“Our hearts and thoughts are with the Robb Elementary School community in Uvalde, Texas. Unimaginable events affect students differently, and school counselors will be available to support students throughout the day tomorrow.
“In South Kingstown, we have made enhancing physical safety in our schools a priority over the past few years. In addition, we have implemented comprehensive school safety plans and procedures in each school, we have threat-assessment protocols and interventions, and we increase the number of adults in our schools to support students.
“We have spoken to South Kingstown Deputy Chief of Police Chief Bucco, and as always, the Police are available to support our schools. In addition, we are fortunate to have two School Resource Officers to assist us in ensuring that safety and security protocols are in place and being followed every day.
“We understand that many students will not be aware of the tragic events in Texas; however, we have attached several helpful resources for parents to have on hand. If you need additional support, please feel free to reach out to your school principals or us with any questions or concerns.
- American Academy of Pediatrics– Talking to Children About Tragedies
- American Psychological Association– Helping your children manage distress after a shooting
- National Association of School Psychologists– Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services– Tips for Talking to Children and Youth After Traumatic Events
“The recent events at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas once again highlight the real concerns we all have around school safety. The safety of our students and staff is a serious responsibility and of paramount concern to all of us.
“Each of our schools maintains a safety plan that is reviewed and revised annually. All schools in the district-run periodic safety drills. Our schools are equipped with security buzzer entry systems and each building has a new high-tech security system which includes numerous cameras. Our schools have safety teams that include School Resource Officers as part of our approach in keeping students and staff safe.
“Each crisis is unique. The best preparation for an emergency is careful planning, practice, execution, and evaluation. Our safety plans and related training have been designed in partnership with experts in the field and set a strong foundation for crisis prevention and intervention as well as response.”
Warwick Public Schools Administration
“In light of yesterday’s school shooting, I want to give you an update on the city’s efforts to keep students safe in Attleboro Public Schools.
“We have funded and installed a gunshot direction system in all 9 of our city schools; the new high school will have a 9th system. We are still setting up a system in the new high school. These gunshot detection systems will immediately notify the police department and anyone else on the notification list when the system, is triggered by a gunshot. If we reduce response time, we save lives.
“The system detects the specific acoustics of a gun, which is different than a firecracker or a door being slammed, or anything else other than a gunshot. The technology we use is the same that has been installed in places like the White House and the Pentagon.
“We used marijuana host fee agreement money to pay for this installation. It costs the city about $500,000, plus an annual service fee of about $20,000.
“A gunshot direction system should be a state requirement in the same way a fire alarm system is a state requirement. This is an action the state legislature needs to take and fund with grants. Attleboro did not want to wait for the state to take action.
“School safety was a priority of mine when I assumed office in 2018 because school shootings are more common and more deadly than school fires but there is no state or federal requirement to instantly notify the police if there is a gunshot like there is to notify the fire department if there is a fire. The police, fire, and school dept agreed.
“This gunshot detection system is only one aspect of addressing school shootings.
- The Attleboro Police Department is also doing active shooting training, where police simulate what to do and how to respond in the event if there is an active shooting in one of our schools.
“While a gunshot detection system is reactive, we are also doing proactive things.
- We are target hardening by making sure that doors are closed, locked, and fortified. The new high school has bulletproof/shatterproof glass at the entrances so a shooter cannot shoot their way into a school.
- Dave Sawyer and I have talked about systems that would detect a gun before the gun enters the school in the first place, keep the gun out.
- We have a ‘school resource officer’ who is a uniformed police officer at the schools.
- We do not support guns in schools but there are other non-lethal responses that are being looked at.
“We started working on school shooting safety shortly after I became mayor. The team was the fire chief, the police chief, the mayor, the school superintendent, the budget director.”