Bay Area schools and local elected officials are responding to this morning’s elementary school mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.
A lone gunman shot and killed more than two dozen people at the K-4 Sandy Hook Elementary School, including 20 children and six adults, according to Connecticut State Police officials.
The gunman was pronounced dead at the school and at least one other person was found dead at a secondary crime scene in Newtown, police said.
San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Richard Carranza called today a “tragic day for us in public education.”
Following the school massacre, San Francisco schools are on a high security alert, Carranza said.
However, classes are not canceled and parents have not been asked to pick up students early.
“I’d like to assure…that our schools are safe,” Carranza said.
SFUSD officials have been in constant communication with the San Francisco Police Department, the mayor’s office, the city’s Department of Public Health and other city agencies, Carranza said.
Kevin Gogin, a crisis coordinator at the school district, said support is available at schools today. Resources for parents will go home with students today, with help available over the weekend.
Gogin suggested parents and guardians provide comfort and support for children who may have questions about the school shooting.
While at school, students are in the care of teachers and staff who have been trained for all types of emergency incidents, he said.
“We’re creating safe places for them,” Gogin said.
New Haven Unified School District spokesman Rick La Plante said school principals there alerted teachers about the news.
“Sometimes, being in a classroom, you’re a little isolated,” La Plante said.
He said the district, which includes schools in Union City and south Hayward, also has a crisis intervention team available for students who might need counseling.
Some schools had parents call saying they wanted to pick their children up after hearing about the shooting, La Plante said.
“We don’t encourage that but certainly don’t discourage it on days like this,” he said.
Oakland Unified School District officials said their school system is secure.
“Our level of readiness greatly exceeds that of the typical school district,” district spokesman Troy Flint said in a statement this afternoon.
Each campus has a safety plan and is on heightened alert, Flint said.
Counseling and other support is also available through the school district.
Oakland police officials said officers are available to speak with students, teachers, staff and parents at any school who have concerns after today’s incident.
Tom Torlakson, the state superintendent of public instruction, said in a statement that the incident is terrible, especially since it took place at a school.
“Our grief is made all the deeper when we think of the innocence of the lives lost and valiant efforts of teachers and school leaders to protect them,” Torlakson said.
State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, touched upon the issue of gun control connected with the mass shooting.
“It is a sad and horrific reminder of what is possible when guns get into the wrong hands,” Yee said in a statement.
In Washington, D.C., President Barack Obama emotionally told the nation that he reacted to today’s tragedy “not as a president…but as a parent.”
Obama said, “I know there is not a parent in America that doesn’t feel the same overwhelming grief that I do.”
He promised to support Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy however possible in responding to the mass killing.
“I will do everything in my power as president to help,” Obama said.
The president has ordered that all flags be lowered to half-staff until Tuesday at sunset in honor of the victims of the shooting.
Sasha Lekach, Bay City News