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Weast Sends Letter on Virginia Tech Tragedy

April 17, 2007
The following letter from Superintendent Jerry D. Weast was sent to the Montgomery County Public Schools community today, April 17, 2007. Translations of the letter in Spanish, French, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Korean can be found at the links below.


MONTGOMERY COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
850 Hungerford Drive, Rockville, Maryland 20850

April 17, 2007

Dear Parents, Students, and Staff:

The horrific campus shooting at Virginia Tech on Monday has shocked and saddened us all. Few words can adequately express our grief, and yes, anger about this senseless act of violence that claimed the lives of so many promising young people and dedicated staff members. In times like this, we as a community must come together to support each other and especially our children. As a parent myself, I know that this unimaginable tragedy will naturally prompt questions from children and also raise concern about our children’s safety. I have included some helpful tips to assist you in talking with your child about the tragedy. I also want to reassure you that Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) takes the safety and security of our students and staff seriously and works diligently to ensure a safe environment for everyone.

It is important to talk with your children about the Virginia Tech tragedy and to reassure them. Share the facts in a calm and caring manner and limit the amount of exposure your young children have to television images of the events. Let them express their fears and anxieties and reassure them that such feelings and emotions are normal. It is also important to maintain normal routines and spend family time together, if possible. Should your child express a need to talk with someone outside of the family, school psychologists and school counselors are available and uniquely qualified to provide this support. The MCPS website, www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org, has additional behavioral health and mental wellness resources to help you talk about tragic events with your children and the material is available in multiple languages.

Providing a safe and secure learning environment for our students and staff is something we focus on each and every day. Our school system has a comprehensive security plan in place and rigorously trains staff members to handle emergency situations that occur in our schools. MCPS also has a close partnership with the Montgomery County Police Department and the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office to maintain safe and secure schools. In fact, another letter describing our joint partnership was already on its way to you before the terrible tragic events of yesterday unfolded. The letter outlines our collective efforts to strengthen school safety and security and provides information to you about the new Memorandum of Understanding (PDF) our three agencies have developed. I also want to remind you that a Montgomery County police officer is assigned to each high school community to promote a safe environment. Parents and students also play a very important role in keeping our schools safe. It is critical for students and parents to report anything suspicious to administrators, security personnel or teachers. Parents, staff and students can also anonymously report suspicious activity through our 24-hour Safe Schools Hotline: 301-517-5995. Please keep this number in a convenient location and do not hesitate to use it.

Please be assured that the safety of your children is our highest priority and we will continue doing our best to make sure Montgomery County Public Schools is a safe place where every student can learn and succeed.

Respectfully,

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

Translated letter from Superintendent Jerry D. Weast:

Chinese - Chinese (206K PDF)

French - French (27K PDF)

Korean - Korean (134K PDF)

Spanish - Spanish (27K PDF)

Vietnamese - Vietnamese (84K PDF)

See Related Link:
Mental health resources to help students, families, and staff
cope with stress and uncertainty

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