Thu Fri 13 letter from the Superintendent


Feb. 13, 2003, midnight | 21 years, 5 months ago


The following is the text of a letter sent today [Thursday, February 13] to all parents, students, and staff from Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of the Montgomery County Public Schools, on emergency preparedness.

Dear Parents, Students, and Staff:

Our school system is responding to the continued national warnings about potential terrorist threats by working to ensure two things: (1) schools have crisis plans in place, ready for quick and confident activation; and (2) school system resources are available to help with the mental health needs of children and adults during this time of crisis.

We are assisting principals and school staff in preparing for emergencies. This includes reviewing the Code Blue and Code Red procedures implemented so successfully earlier this year. In addition, we are coordinating efforts with local, county, state, and federal safety and health officials. Depending on the nature of an emergency, we would respond and act at their direction.

Parents should know that access to schools during an incident might be restricted for a variety of reasons beyond our control. In such instances, parents should remain aware of public notices on radio, television, and the Internet about emergency procedures and updates. In any case, student and staff safety is our first priority. All procedures are designed for their protection.

In the meantime, the stress of a crisis can be a problem for children and adults. This is why we work hard to address the emotional, intellectual, physical, and behavioral reactions to stress. We know that coping skills can be taught and encouraged. For example, people who cope well are often sociable, optimistic, flexible, and in control in managing strong feelings. Children learn such skills by seeing them demonstrated by adults. This means that parents and staff need to be resilient. They can do this by solving problems positively, modeling empathy and tolerance, promoting healthy discussions, and interacting warmly with minimal criticism.

The school system has gathered a wealth of mental health information, including tips for parents (in multiple languages), on our Emergency Information website at www.mcps.k12.md.us. This site will be updated frequently. In addition, links to federal, state, and county safety information and an "Emergency Preparedness Guide" are available at www.montgomerycountymd.gov. [See links below.]

The safety issues confronting our nation and community are serious. After the sniper incident in October, I had thought a letter such as this would not be necessary so soon. Nonetheless, I know that parents, students, and staff will work together to help maintain a focus on teaching and learning in our schools as we address this continuing emergency.

Respectfully,

Jerry D. Weast, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools




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