As the pieces continue to come together following the unthinkable events that unfolded Friday morning in Newtown, Connecticut, we wanted to update you on NEA’s efforts to provide support to the families and educators who were most deeply affected by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
We are so grateful for the many calls, emails and offers to assist those in Newtown and calls for a more public campaign around the issues that contributed to this tragedy. The Association is already engaged in conversations with state and local leaders of both NEA and AFT on a formal response to the shooting, but we are also mindful of the heartbreaking task that lies before the 26 families who were affected by the tragedy. That is why we are first and foremost this week dedicated to giving each family the time, space and support they need to grieve their loved ones and take the first tentative steps toward healing.
The time for public action will come, but first we must allow them time to grieve.
In the meantime, NEA has already taken steps to support our colleagues and their community in Newtown. Immediately following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, we reached out to AFT—the union that represents the school’s employees and offered our support in any way that we can for their members. We are grateful to the Connecticut Education Association, which is providing AFT with office space from which to help their members. Over the weekend, staff from NEA’s Health Information Network crisis team traveled to Newtown to offer guidance and counsel on how to provide the resources and support for those who were most deeply affected. The team that responded was one of our most experienced teams of crisis counselors having most recently supported our own members through the school shooting in Chardon, Ohio. This team will be on the ground immediately after the holidays to provide training, crisis counseling and support for AFT and NEA members in the region.
CEA is also focused on providing essential services throughout the area and is funneling much needed support for families as students prepare to re-enter the classroom in a nearby district. They are also this week anticipating the funerals of the educators and students who lost their lives. Victoria Soto will be the first educator to be memorialized. Her service will be held Wednesday. The New York Times,<http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/15/nyregion/sandy-hook-principal-and-school-psychologist-went-the-extra-mile.html?smid=tw-share&_r=2&> The Examiner<http://www.examiner.com/article/i-just-want-christmas>, and the Hartford Courant<http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-timeline-newtown-shooting-1216-20121215,0,1878564.story> each wrote about her heroism and the heroic acts of other Sandy Hook employees who placed themselves in the line of fire to protect their students. CEA provides more information on local efforts on their website at www.cea.org<http://www.cea.org>.
NEA members, parents and the community will be able to send condolence messages to the Newtown community via an NEA webpage that will be available this week at www.nea.org/safeschools<http://www.nea.org/safeschools>. The page also links to resources from the HIN Crisis Tool Kit and other content that will be helpful to educators, parents and others as they address the crisis with children.
Today, as we do all that we can do to help their families heal, we will mourn the senseless deaths of Sandy Hook’s children and the educators whose devotion to their students, and their profession, make us all very proud. Tomorrow, when the time is right, we will take action to ensure this kind of tragedy never happens again.