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Superintendent commits to 'continuous improvement' in keeping children safe

Oregon City's usual school safety precautions remain in place — including locking doors to the outside, practicing lockdown drills and screening each visitor before allowing them to enter a school — following another mass shooting at an American school.Kyle Laier

Kyle Laier, Oregon City School District's interim superintendent, said as a parent and an educator himself who cares deeply for youth, it is hard to comprehend the continuing violence.

"These repeated high-profile acts of violence have a profound effect on each and every one of us, especially in schools," Laier said.

On May 24, an 18-year-old suspect entered Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 students and two teachers. More children and adults were injured in the attack, and some remain in critical condition.

"Incidents like the tragedy in Texas remind us all about the importance of preparation and continuous improvement," Laier said. "Our partnerships with law enforcement and emergency services providers prepare us for various scenarios. We have plans and procedures in place to halt an incident as quickly as possible and keep students and staff safe, while initiating an off-site parent reunification procedure so families can be reconnected with their children in a calm and orderly manner."

Laier warned parents and families that the Texas event may stir up fears and emotions in children. Experts recommend limiting children's exposure to repetitive, disturbing TV coverage of the tragedy, which can help protect students from getting anxious.

"Our students will look to adults for information and guidance on how to react," Laier said. Parents and staff can help children feel safe by establishing a sense of normalcy and security and talking with them about their fears."

National Association of School Psychologists' recommendations include the following strategies:

• Reassure children that they are safe.

• Make time to talk.

• Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate.

• Review safety procedures.

• Observe children's emotional state.

• Maintain a normal routine.

Oregon City school officials reminded citizens that everyone has a role in preventing violent acts.

"Students, parents, staff and community members are all encouraged to share information that is concerning to them," Laier said. "Though information may be incomplete or turn out to be just a rumor, it's always best to err on the side of caution."

Potential threats should be immediately reported to school staff, police or the 24-hour anonymous SafeOregon tip line at 844-472-3367.

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