Weast's final letter addressing the sniper concerns
This is the fourteenth and final letter from Superintendent of Schools Jerry Weast on the topic of the sniper shootings that have plagued the Washington Metropolitan area for the past three weeks. In the letter, Weast expresses his gratitude to school staff and especially law enforcement for their efforts in this trying time.
Though the crisis is over, Weast cautions that the stress caused by the sniper situation may have lasting effects.
The letter is reprinted below:
October 25, 2002
The Final Update (#14)
Dear Parents, Students, and Staff:
Last night's announcement of an end to the three-week crisis was welcome news to all of us. Today, children had the opportunity to play outside, student athletes resumed their preparations for competition, and adults, too, had the chance to enjoy the fresh air of a casual walk outdoors.
Nonetheless, mental health professionals remind us to remain aware of the prolonged effects of this stressful situation. New materials are being provided to help schools respond to these issues, and the materials will be available soon on our web site. Student absenteeism during this time can be excused if parents provide a note. Students can complete make-up work.
There are lessons to be learned from our experiences, and schools and departments will be working in the coming weeks to assess ways in which we can continue to improve our response to emergency situations. Parents need to know that school-based staff -- teachers, principals, school secretaries, cafeteria workers, school security personnel, building service crews, maintenance staff, bus drivers, instructional aides, and other colleagues worked hard to keep our schools working smoothly. They had support from a great many people in systemwide security, transportation, school administration, athletics, student services, and communications to address problems in the last three weeks. All of them deserve our thanks.
Throughout all of this, the members of the Board of Education, the County Council, the County Executive, and other state and local government leaders were deeply supportive of our efforts. With their help, for example, secure fields at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg were made available for athletic practices that would have begun there today.
A great example of how our community came together during a time of crisis is the highly professional work of county, state, municipal, and park police, as well as the other members of the combined task force and fire and rescue services. One person in particular deserves our commendation -- Charles A. Moose, Ph.D., the Montgomery County Chief of Police. Dr. Moose can be reached at Montgomery County Police Headquarters, 2350 Research Boulevard, Rockville, Maryland, 20850. If there ever was a time to reach out to thank the men and women who protect us, this is that time (as well as any time in the future).
Jerry D. Weast, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
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