By Dr. Samuel Torres
As a Catholic community we unite in prayer for all schools experiencing traumatic events. As you are likely aware, there was another school shooting, this tragic event at Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee. We are deeply saddened by this heartbreaking news. Our hearts are with all the families affected by this tragedy, and with the entire Covenant community and the city of Nashville as they respond to and grieve this terrible loss.
Tragic events like this one bring up a broad range of emotions for everyone in our school community. We recognize that this will impact all of us in different ways in the coming days and weeks, and as we wrap up this school year, please know we are committed to supporting every member of our community as they process what has occurred. Each school will be reviewing safety plans which include an inspection of exterior doors and locks. Administrators and teachers will be available for students to share their thoughts and feelings during the school day. Our goal is to make space for people to share, feel and support one another. We partner with parents and local agencies in ongoing dialogue with children regarding safe environment practices.
It is wise to limit media exposure. Protect children from too much media coverage about the attacks, including on the Internet, radio, television or other technologies (e.g., texting, Facebook, Twitter). Explain to them that media coverage and social media technologies can trigger fears of the attacks happening again and spread rumors. Time spent on relaxation or creative outlets outside of devices will go a long way in allowing them to process information and aid in limiting the feeling of being overwhelmed or afraid. Therefore, exposing children to ongoing intricacies and details of events of this nature does not help them maintain a positive outlook.
We also remain wholeheartedly committed to ensuring the safety of everyone on our campuses. We have strong security measures in place to ensure the safety and security of all our students and staff, and we will continue to evaluate and build on those measures regularly, so they remain as strong as possible. We encourage parents and guardians to use the school-approved entrances for students and visitors. Let’s remain vigilant and watchful as we go through our daily routine. If we notice that something is off or not in order as normal, let’s not wait to bring that to attention. If you see something you know shouldn’t be there, or someone’s behavior doesn’t seem quite right, say something. The timing of your recognition of this may make all the difference for an outcome.
While we cannot alleviate the pain of this tragic event, we remain dedicated to safety, as well as physical, emotional and spiritual health. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your local Catholic school principal for support or information when needed. Together, we invoke St. Michael the Archangel and St. Joseph, the protector of families, to pray with us and for us, to help us maintain safety and wellbeing of the students and staff attending campuses throughout our diocese.
Dr. Samuel Torres is Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of San Bernardino.