Dear OPA Families and Staff,
Yesterday, an unspeakable tragedy occurred at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. As a school community, I know it is extremely hard to process violence on this scale and the senseless loss of so many lives. Our heartfelt sympathies are with the victims and their families, as well as the community of Robb Elementary School.
As the media continues to update us with more details about these horrific events, we know that people may process grief, loss and acts of violence differently. Therefore, below are several resources that may be helpful in supporting our champions, staff and families:
- OCDE Newsroom: How to help children cope with tragic events
- American Psychological Association: Helping your children manage distress in the aftermath of a shooting
- CHOC: Helping children cope with mass violence
- Common Sense Media: How to Talk to Kids About School Shootings
- Coalition to Support Grieving Students Website
- Coalition to Support Grieving Students – Talking with Children (PDF)
- National Institute of Mental Health – Helping Children Cope with Violence
Please know that the health and safety of our OPA champions and staff remain the top priority, and we will continue to work together to ensure OPA is a safe place filled with engagement and support. When it comes to safety on our campuses and the well-being of our champions, please know that we continually address these priorities. At OPA, we emphasize kindness, safety, and inclusion through daily best practices, schoolwide initiatives, and assemblies. We maintain strong partnerships with our local law enforcement, including the school resource officer assigned to each school, first responders, and the Orange County Department of Education to discuss preventive and proactive measures that may be taken to better protect our students and staff from acts of violence, natural disasters, and other emergency situations.
OPA has safety plans in place at each of our schools that we consistently review, evaluate and practice. Each school plan is customized and updated annually. Safety drills are conducted regularly, and procedures are practiced each month for various types of emergencies, including fire, earthquake, and lock-down drills.
Please talk with your champions, as you feel appropriate for your family. Our staff, including school counselors, psychologists, teachers, and administrators, are available if students need additional emotional support. Please encourage your champion to seek out an adult they trust if they need to talk about these or any issues they are dealing with. Also, we want everyone on our campus, including parents and guardians to be empowered to report any unusual or suspicious activity. If you or your champion see something, please say something. And in emergencies, always call 911.
I continue to be awed by the kindness, compassion, and dedication of our OPA community. Because of all of you, our champions will get through this tragic event knowing that they are loved and cared for. Please keep the families of Uvalde in your hearts and continue to support and comfort our champions and each other.
Thank you all for being such an integral part of our OPA community and for your continued partnership.