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North Salem Schools Stress Safety Steps in Note to Parents

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. ? North Salem Superintendent of Schools Ken Freeston issued the following community message in response to Friday's school shooting in Newtown, Conn .:

We will have extra police presence on our two campuses this week.

Across the country, people have concerns about children returning to schools in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings. In North Salem, we already have the immediate cooperation of our Police who will provide an extra presence on both campuses this week.

The North Salem School District takes safety and security concerns seriously. We have an active community advisory safety committee with law enforcement, emergency management and medical responder members. We practice active shooter lock down and evacuation drills. In fact, just last week we conducted our lock down drill at PQ. In the longer term, our Safety Committee will look at what changes and advice will now come from school safety expert professionals as the Sandy Hook events are analyzed. From what we now know, it is clear that familiarity with lock down protocols saved lives in Newtown.

On a personal note, I have lived in Newtown since 1988 with my wife Cheryl and 25 year old son Dave, who attended the Newtown schools for 13 years. We know the town, the schools and its people well. I was the assistant superintendent there for a number of years. Mary Johnson started her career as a first grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary school. With our closeness to the town and this terrible tragedy and with our experienced staff and administrators, we are able to apply a deep personal understanding of the effects of tragedies on young lives. We will be ready to support individual students who are having a particularly difficult time. Please let the school know if you think your son or daughter may need an extra watchful eye.

In that spirit, below is a link to a NY Times article published this weekend on how to talk to your children about the shootings. The article is consistent with information we shared with staff and parents in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/15/health/tips-for-talking-to-children-about-the-elementary-school-mass-shooting.html?_r=1&

Working together we can provide young people with confidence that there are adults in their lives to whom they can turn when times are difficult.

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