Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting: Local schools prepare for first school day since shooting


Today is the first school day following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut and schools across Palm Beach County made plans for receiving students.

At Marsh Pointe Elementary in Palm Beach Gardens, Principal Maureen Werner recorded a message for parents this weekend.
"I am making this call with the hopes of acknowledging the fact that we stand united in our grief and condolences for the entire Newtown, Connecticut school community.  This was a heinous, incomprehensible tragedy," her message said.

Werner says she has received an overwhelming outpouring of support from parents.  "Please know that we have as safe a school as anyone can have and that the MPE Crisis Response codes are current and practiced on a scheduled basis," her message said.

At 7:30 Monday morning, teachers lined the hallways of the school and all students were brought in simultaneously, instead of the typical staggered entry.  They reassured children that the school is safe.  Werner said attendance Monday was "normal."

Werner said throughout the weekend, she communicated with teachers and discussed the best approach in the classroom following the tragedy.  

"We are always practicing our emergency response drills and everything and that we will handle the children's questions with sensitivity, based on the age of the children and their level of understanding and awareness," Werner said.

Palm Beach County School District Spokeswoman Vickie Middlebrooks says extra security is in place at every school in the district.  She says teachers are being very vigilant and some were given guidance over the weekend and first thing Monday morning.  Extra guidance counselors are being offered to any teachers or students who need to talk.

Tiffanie Smith, a mother of a kindergartener and a second grader at Marsh Pointe, says she approached having a conversation with her children very carefully over the weekend.  She said her younger child is likely too young to understand.

Her older child had many questions.  "Being gifted, she has a lot more questions than a normal second grader would, so we were very honest with her and just said that a very sad thing happened and that sometimes happens in the world, it is very rare," Smith said.

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