Dear London Families,
On September 11th, 2001 I was an elementary school teacher at Cedarville Elementary School. I was on my planning period, when the second plane struck the World Trade Center. I remember watching some of the aftermath of that attack throughout the day and vividly recall trying to comprehend how best to provide support for my students.
When I drove home that afternoon, every radio station, no matter the format, carried national news. I remember arriving home in Fairborn, embracing my wife and 9 month old and heading to Wright State to pick up my sister-in-law. As we sat on campus, we all heard a sonic boom. What we were later to find out was likely military aircraft eclipsing the sound barrier was quickly misreported as a possible bomb nearby. Soon thereafter, erroneous reports of fires at Wright Patterson were widely reported. As a new father, I was anxious about the world in which my daughter would be raised.
In a great many ways the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School reminds me of the uncertainty of 2001. The event was so horrific it touched the country as a whole and on a deeply personal level. Most of us simply cannot rationalize how a tragedy like this could take place. The situation is similar as well because of the rampant speculation and hyper awareness it has caused. In 2001, this was experienced primarily through radio and TV reports like the fictional report of the bomb I experienced. Since the tragedy, we have seen numerous accounts of speculation and inaccuracies reported widely on social media in our own hometown and across the nation.
Due to widely shared speculation on social media about safety concerns at LMS last Thursday evening, our overall attendance for the district was down significantly on Friday. It appears the number of posts and replies on social media, prevented a large number of parents from sending their child to school. As a superintendent and parent, I understand. Any student whose parent indicated that they stayed home today due to a safety concern has been marked for an excused absence.
After September 11th, each of us had to make a choice. We felt threatened and unsafe, and we needed to make a decision on how to live our lives that was best for us. Many of us contemplated our fears of flying and had to balance our travel plans with our safety concerns. Today, we are faced with a similar situation in regards to schools. Parents are concerned with safety and have to make decisions on how their child will be educated both short term and in the long term. In doing so, however, we also need to keep in mind the safety decisions we make everyday like putting on our seat belts, driving the speed limit, and whether or not we allow our children to go to places like the mall, grocery store, or even at home. Because of the safety measures we take at school, in many ways schools are among the safest places for children to be throughout the day.
In our social media age, we also must be savvy in regards to making informed decisions based on a variety of facts and not speculation. While good advice in any regard, making decisions based on factual information and not being influenced simply by anxiousness stoked on social media is something adults need to model in order for our students to learn.
Our district will continue to make school safety a top priority. Our safety plan, which has been vetted by the Ohio Department of Education and Homeland Security, will continue to be frequently practiced and updated accordingly. If a situation is reported, it will be investigated. If appropriate, the investigation will involve the police department. Decisions about increased safety procedures will be made with the best information and in consultation with first responders. Communication to parents and to the community will be made with regard to safety and in a manner appropriate for the situation.
I encourage parents to continue to have open discussions with students about keeping themselves and those around them safe. Discuss with them about safety drills and what to do in case of an emergency at home, school, or at other times of the day. Finally, teach them awareness and “if they see something to say something.”
We want to help. If you or your child have questions, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s teacher, your school principal, or the district office.
In a further attempt to bolster our district’s communication efforts, this non emergency message is being sent via email blast and posted on the district’s website and social media accounts.
Dr. Lou Kramer | Superintendent