Dear PS 107 Families,
The events of this morning shook all of us to our core. What began as a drizzly spring morning quickly turned into tragedy, so close to our school community. Many of us have passed through the 36th Street subway station; we all realized how easily this could have affected us, our friends, our family, our neighbors, our children.
Shortly after the incident, along with many neighboring schools, PS 107 was directed to Shelter-in-Place. Shelter-in-Place means that the day goes on as usual inside the building, but all entrances to the building are locked, and there is no movement in or out of the building. Students did not go to the Armory for PE and students did not go outside for recess. While children knew that things were a bit unusual, their day more or less proceeded as usual. I visited several classrooms and all were engaged in joyful learning. Indeed, it was calming for me to see this.
At 12:30, the Shelter-in-Place order was lifted, and we were able to have our final lunch/recess period outdoors. Children asked the adults outside why they had to stay in the building earlier, and our response was, “there was a police investigation in another area, and the police asked us to stay in our school building out of an abundance of caution.” Some children pressed for more details, but we did not provide any. We know that each family would like to process today’s events with their children.
Some children with smart phones and smart watches received alerts on their phones — and may have even received text messages from family members. This is an important opportunity to remind families that while phones are permitted in school, they cannot be turned on. Smart watches are more complicated, but we ask that they also not be on to receive alerts and text messages during the day (and that their ability to record video and audio is disabled during school hours). As a parent myself, I understand the desire to be directly in touch with your child during a scary event, but in fact, at the elementary level, alerts and text messages only served to increase children’s anxiety and start rumors among older children who had incomplete information. This incident has prompted us to review our cell phone and smart watch policy, which we will be revising and sharing with families in the coming weeks.
You may wonder how to process this event with your children after school today. I highly recommend reviewing advice from the experts, such as:
- What to Say to Kids When the News is Scary, from NPR
- Helping Your Children Manage Distress in the Aftermath of a Shooting, from the American Psychological Association
PS 107 teachers and staff members were the heroes of the day, keeping classrooms peaceful, calm, and filled with learning, while managing their own fears and uncertainties about what was happening. I am filled with gratitude. Let us hope for a resolution to this terrifying event, and for comfort and healing to all who were directly affected.