This will be a difficult time for teachers, parents and students as school districts across the country grapple with how to handle the aftermath of Friday's devastating school shooting in Newtown, CT.
White Plains is no different, and Superintendent Chris Clouet said he has met with administrators at each school to go over plans for handling questions and concerns following the shooting.
"Our plan is to handle this in an age-appropriate manner; no big assemblies, etc. for elementary students will be held; at the middle school and high school level this becomes a teachable moment," Clouet said in an open letter to parents posted on the district's website.
When contacted by Patch on Tuesday, Clouet said counselors have been made available to teachers and students, many of whom are expected to be "very hurt and fragile" as they come to grips with the shooting deaths of 26 people inside a Connecticut elementary school only an hour's drive away.
"We had everybody in place for support and some kids did avail themselves to it," Clouet said.
Each school has convened their safety teams to prepare for any possible issues this week. A handful of districts in other parts of the country dealt with copycat threats Monday, but there have been no such issues in White Plains, Clouet said.
The school district has been in regular contact with the White Plains Police Department and White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach, Clouet said. Police officers were stationed outside each of the district's schools during Friday afternoon's dismissal as a precaution.
"It's more to let the community know we are aware of it and to help them feel safe," Ann FitzSimmons, assistant police chief, said Friday.
Clouet said meetings are scheduled to take place this week with officials from the police department and with the mayor.
Over the weekend police identified 20-year-old Adam Lanza as the man who shot and killed 26 people—20 of them young students—Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
As parents deal with their own concerns this week, Clouet reminded them of the local safety procedures in place within the school district. Each of the district's schools have an updated comprehensive safety plan as well as trained crisis response teams that have been in place since 1999.
Each school also has security cameras and monitors and emergency drills are practiced throughout the year.
The school district has also posted a list of literature for parents to help them deal with traumatic events like what unfolded Friday in Connecticut.