Dear HISD Community,
Schools are supposed to be places where our children feel safe to learn and play with their friends. On Friday, we were reminded that even our best efforts to protect our precious students are sometimes not enough to prevent tragedy. I know that all of you join me in praying for the Newtown community and sending them our sincere condolences as they grieve their unimaginable loss.
As Houston ISD students and employees return to class today, I want to assure you that we are taking action to ensure our schools are as safe as possible. We have nearly 200 fully certified police officers in the HISD Police Department, and they are vigilantly patrolling our school neighborhoods and walking our campus hallways. Every school in HISD regularly performs safety drills, and every campus leadership team has an emergency preparedness plan in place. In the days and weeks to come, our police department leaders will be reviewing our procedures to determine whether any modifications are necessary to further protect our children and employees.
HISD also employs a well-trained team of psychologists whose services are available to every campus. Our principals and teachers will not hesitate to bring them in to help any student who might need their care. It is not uncommon for children to have questions and to express fears in these times. We encourage parents to address their children’s concerns proactively. The National Association of School Psychologists offers some helpful tips for parents as they discuss this tragedy with their children. Those suggestions include reassuring children that they are safe, and acknowledging their feelings. You can find more recommendations on the group’s website by clicking here.
The final week of school before winter break is always a time of celebration and anticipation. We owe it to our children to keep it that way. We also owe them a collective commitment to doing whatever it takes to keep them safe while they are in our care. I want to personally wish each of you a joyful holiday season, and encourage you to hug your children just a little tighter and a little longer this year.
Terry B. Grier