Green Bay Area Public Schools sends letter to parents, staff after Texas school shooting

Green Bay schools sent a letter to parents Tuesday night providing them access to mental health resources and detailing district-wide safety trainings.
Published: May. 24, 2022 at 9:27 PM CDT|Updated: May. 25, 2022 at 9:55 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Green Bay schools sent a letter to parents Tuesday night providing them access to mental health resources and detailing district-wide safety trainings.

Green Bay Area Public School District Interim Superintendent Vicki Bayer expressed sympathy for the lives lost at Robb Elementary School in Texas.

“With great sadness, I share my most heartfelt sympathy to the students, parents, staff and community of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Once again, we are faced with the incredible pain of the families of the students and the teacher who did not survive another senseless tragedy,” Bayer wrote.

We first alerted you an 18-year-old gunman opened fire at the school, killing at least 18 children as he went from classroom to classroom.

Green Bay Police Chief Chris Davis says the department will have an additional presence in schools Wednesday.

Barbara Dorff previously served as the executive director of pupil services for the Green Bay Area Public School District. Tragedies like the Texas shooting remind her of the actions she took to ensure safety.

“For me it just brought back the heartbreak of Sandy Hook. And that is what really started me on a journey with Green Bay schools to get better school security,” Dorff said.

Dorff says she introduced ALICE into the school district, making it one of the first districts in the state to adopt the program.

“Talk to your children, maybe talk to them about their ALICE training,” Dorff urged.

ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.

Alert is realizing you’re in danger, accepting it.

Lockdown is to block the room you’re in and be prepared to Counter and Evacuate.

Inform is to notify authorities of the shooter’s location and direction in real-time.

“We make sure the doors are locked in Green Bay public schools. You can’t get into the schools. There’s a secured vestibule entrance. Where if you can get in one door, the next door has to be unlocked by someone in the office,” Dorff explained.

The district told parents in its letter one of the most important actions staff and students can take is to speak up if they see or hear anything.

“These things don’t happen in a vacuum, somebody knows. Somebody has talked about it. Somebody has said something on social media, has said something to a friend,” Dorff said.

The Green Bay Area Public School District is encouraging parents, guardians and staff to visit the National Association of School Psychologists website to learn more about how to talk to children about violence.

Below is the full text of the district’s letter:

Wisconsin State Superintendent Jill Underly released this statement following the shooting:

“The most foundational value we hold as educators is that we must keep our students safe.

Kids need to be safe in their schools. Educators need to be safe in their schools. Parents and families trust schools to keep their children safe. And right now, they are not safe.

It is why we work so hard to foster welcoming communities in our schools and protect the emotional well-being of our students through social-emotional learning, mental health services, and so much more. But with the reality of school shootings in America, no school policy or anti-bullying lesson or mental health support can achieve student safety in the face of rampant gun access in our country. Educators cannot keep children safe without the rest of us holding our leaders accountable to more than thoughts and prayers; we must hold them accountable for real policy change and significant reform of our gun laws. But as a society, we have enabled a culture where gun violence is accepted. We’ve allowed pro-gun organizations to hold elected officials hostage and dictate our gun and safety laws, usurping the will of the citizens of the United States who elect individuals into office to protect our best interests. This must change.

The painful fact that gun violence and other societal challenges continue to spill into our schools requires me to engage in issues that extend beyond traditional school policy. The education of Wisconsin students and the safety of our children and educators in our schools must be addressed - not tomorrow, not next month, and not after the next loss of life. Every day is the right time to protect the lives of children; the day after a school shooting is already a day too late.

Today, tomorrow, the next day and until our children are safe, I call on all levels of government to enact policy to reform gun laws in our state and our country. They must take action to urgently protect our children and communities. That is our job as adults, as parents, as leaders, and as a society: to protect our children. What type of society are we, and what does that say about us as a civilization, if we refuse to support policies that protect lives and instead strengthen laws that value weapons more? Our students cannot learn if they are not alive. It sickens me that I have to say that, but I will keep saying it until our kids are safe.”

Wisconsin State Superintendent Jill Underly

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