Dear St. Helena Parish School Community,
As parents, you must be feeling a mix of emotions, from shock and anger to sadness and fear. Please know that the safety and well-being of your children are our top priorities, and we are taking every measure to ensure their safety while they are in our care.
In the coming days and weeks, we will be working closely with law enforcement, mental health professionals, and community organizations to provide resources and support for our learners and families. We are committed to creating a safe and nurturing environment where your children can heal and grow. Here are some of the steps we will be taking:
Return to School - School will restart Tuesday, September 19, 2023, at its normal time with a Prayer Service set to begin at 8:30am in the gym. All after-school activities will resume as well. The Road to Mastery Program will resume on Monday, September 25, 2023.
Counseling and Support - Southeast Community Health Systems has developed a comprehensive Post Incident Mental Health Services plan for all employees and learners. Counseling service will be available for individuals and groups who may need assistance in processing their feelings and emotions.
Increased Security Measures - A strong police presence will be on campus over the next several weeks. We will search all school bags before any learner enters the building. We will be reviewing and enhancing our security protocols to minimize the risk of such incidents in the future. Thanks to the LDOE Stronger Connections grant that was recently approved, upgraded security cameras will be installed within the next few weeks.
Reinforcement of Existing Policies
- All school bags must be clear or mesh. Any bags not adhering to this policy will be confiscated.
- Everyone must be in full uniform. A school shirt must be worn under any jackets or pullovers.
- Only 11 or 12 grade learners are allowed to drive a registered vehicle to school. All car riders must park in the stadium parking lot. With the exception of employees, no one is allowed in this area.
- It is illegal for a minor to drive a vehicle without a license. The Greensburg Police Department will monitor the public park and other areas to prevent illegal drivers from parking around the vicinity of the school. All illegally parked vehicles, on or off campus, will be towed.
- Cell phones are not allowed at school. Phones used during class or exposed at any time during the day will be confiscated.
Open Communication - We will continue to communicate regularly and provide updates on our efforts to support the community. We encourage you to engage in open and honest conversations with your children about their feelings and concerns. Children may have questions or fears about their safety, and it's essential to provide them with reassurance and a safe space to express themselves.
We are grateful for the outpouring of support from our community, and we are stronger when we come together in times of adversity. Together, we will heal, and together, we will move forward. Our school community is resilient, and we will emerge from this tragedy stronger and more united than ever before.
Below are some tips from the National Association of School Psychologists for helping your children cope with news such as this.
What Parents Can Do:
- Focus on your children over the week following the tragedy. Tell them you love them, and everything will be okay. Try to help them understand what has happened, keeping in mind their developmental level.
- Make time to talk with your children. Remember if you do not talk to your children about this incident someone else will. Take some time and determine what you wish to say.
- Stay close to your children. Your physical presence will reassure them and give you the opportunity to monitor their reaction. Many children will want actual physical contact. Give plenty of hugs. Let them sit close to you, and make sure to take extra time at bedtime to cuddle and to reassure them that they are loved and safe.
- Limit your child’s television viewing of these events. If they must watch, watch with them for a brief time; then turn the set off. Don’t sit mesmerized re-watching the same events over and over again.
- Maintain a “normal” routine. To the extent possible stick to your family’s normal routine for dinner, homework, chores, bedtime, etc., but don’t be inflexible. Children may have a hard time concentrating on schoolwork or falling asleep at night.
- Spend extra time reading or playing quiet games with your children before bed. These activities are calming, foster a sense of closeness and security, and reinforce a sense of normalcy. Spend more time tucking them in. Let them sleep with a light on if they ask for it.
- Safeguard your children’s physical health. Stress can take a physical toll on children as well as adults. Make sure your children get appropriate sleep, exercise, and nutrition.
- Consider praying or thinking hopeful thoughts for the victims and their families. It may be a good time to take your children to your place of worship, write a poem, or draw a picture to help your child express their feelings and feel that they are somehow supporting the victims and their families.