Dear Bullis Families,
I write to you this morning with a heavy heart about the horrific shooting yesterday at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. My colleagues and I, and I am sure our entire community, are so deeply saddened by this heartbreaking news. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the families affected by this tragedy and with the entire Uvalde community as they respond and grieve this terrible loss. I write to you specifically about this event because it was in a school setting. The recent tragic, racially motivated shooting in Buffalo is also weighing heavily, and I know personally that the proximity of these events to each other adds to the anguish.
Inevitably, events like this provoke a range of feelings, including fear and despondency, in students, parents, and faculty. Here at Bullis, we want to be responsive to everyone in ways that are appropriate for them as individuals, with specific reference to their age and their exposure to the news of such events. Many adults and older students will have heard about the shootings in Texas and Buffalo, but our younger students may well have been shielded by their families from yesterday’s news. We will pay special attention to this throughout the day and be on the lookout for students who are upset, whatever their age.
Counselors will be available throughout the day for students and adults, and there will be an opportunity for older students and adult facilitators to gather to discuss and console each other at lunchtime today. Our goal is to make space for people to share, feel, and support one another.
Of course, at times like these, our minds turn to the safety of everyone on our own campus–not just physical safety but emotional and mental health safety too. Over the last two years, I have written and spoken often about the importance of mental health in our community and our concerns about the mental health crisis that is sweeping the country, a crisis that is particularly severe in adolescents. Next year, we will have five counselors on staff, a revamped health program for all students, and learning events for teachers and parents. We are proactive and want to be there for students and parents when issues arise. Our small class sizes and low student-to-teacher/
Bullis has strong and effective security measures in place to help ensure, as much as possible, the safety of all of our students and staff. Not only do we have a proactive and well-known security staff in place, we also have protocols and procedures to help us. Students and staff participate in regular trainings, and access to our campus is overseen by our security personnel. Before the pandemic, every building was locked, and entry was gained by entering a code. This was disabled in March 2020 to reduce potential surface transmission of viral particles, but this month we have been discussing returning to this procedure for next year. We will consult with external security advisors before undertaking new or returning to previous practices. We will continue to evaluate and build on those measures regularly so they remain as strong as possible.
While we cannot alleviate the pain of yesterday’s tragic events, we remain dedicated to safety–both physical and emotional. Here is a link to tips for parents and teachers, and below, I have included some additional resources that may be useful. As ever, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the division heads, the counselors, or me if we can be of any help.
- Tips for Talking With and Helping Children and Youth Cope After a Disaster or Traumatic Event
- Talking to Children About the Shooting
- The Child Mind Institute: Helping Children Cope After a Traumatic Event
Christian G. Sullivan
Head of School