A Letter From Superintendent Taibi

As you may know, 17 students and teachers recently lost their lives during a school shooting in Parkland, FL. Our deepest condolences are with those affected by the senseless and horrific event that occurred in Parkland, Florida. This horrific tragedy represents the single biggest fear that parents have as they send their students to school each and every day.  
In light of this tragedy, we’d like to remind our school community that the safety and security of our students and staff will continue to be our top priority.  As always, all school buildings will remain locked at all times. All visitors must be granted building access by staff and must sign in at the main office. In addition to our safety meetings and various drills practiced throughout the year, we are continuously reviewing and updating our safety policies and procedures as we receive information from law enforcement. No amount of review or practice is too much when it comes to the safety of our students and staff, and we will continue to review our plans to make sure that our schools are the absolute safest that they can be. 
As a community, we must continue to look out for one another.  We ask that you speak with your children and emphasize the importance of sharing information that could be considered threatening with a responsible adult.  Administrators, teachers, counselors and school psychologists are available to assist you.  I would like to commend our students with how they have already shared information with trusted adults in past situations of potential concern so that they could be properly investigated. 
I would like to share with you a list of tips from the National Association of School Psychologists about what parents can do at times like this: 
  • Reassure children that they are safe. Emphasize that schools are safe. Validate their feelings. Explain that all feelings are okay when a tragedy occurs. Let children talk about their feelings, help put them into perspective, and assist them in expressing these feelings appropriately.
  • Make time to talk. Let their questions be your guide as to how much information to provide. Be patient. Children do not always talk about their feelings readily.
  • Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate:
  • Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that their school and homes are safe and that adults are there to protect them.
  • Upper elementary and early middle school children will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what is being done at school. They may need assistance separating reality from fantasy. Discuss efforts of school and community leaders to provide safe schools.
  • Upper middle school and high school students will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence. They will share concrete suggestions about how to make school safer and how to prevent tragedies in society. Emphasize the role that students have in maintaining safe schools by following school safety guidelines communicating any personal safety concerns to administrators and accessing support for emotional needs. 
  • Review safety procedures. This should include procedures and safeguards at school and at home. Help children identify at least one adult at school and in the community to whom they go if they feel threatened or at risk.
  • Observe children’s emotional state. Some children may not express their concerns verbally. Changes in behavior, appetite, and sleep patterns can indicate a child’s level of anxiety or discomfort. In most children, these symptoms will ease with reassurance and time. However, some children may be at risk for more intense reactions. Children who have had a past traumatic experience or personal loss, suffer from depression or other mental illness, or with special needs may be at greater risk for severe reactions than others. Seek the help of mental health professional if you are at all concerned.
  • Limit television or online viewing of these events. Limit viewing and be aware if the television is on in common areas. Developmentally inappropriate information can cause anxiety or confusion, particularly in young children. Adults also need to be mindful of the content of conversations that they have with each other in front of children, even teenagers, and limit their exposure to hateful or angry comments that might be misunderstood.
  • Maintain a normal routine. Keeping to a regular schedule can be reassuring and promote physical health. Ensure that children get plenty of sleep, regular meals, and exercise. Encourage them to keep up with their schoolwork and extracurricular activities but don’t push them if they seem overwhelmed.
Ultimately, everyone has a role in maintaining a safe environment at Cairo-Durham CSD. Our community is indeed the sum of many people working together, including parents, teachers, volunteers, and countless others. We are grateful of the role of parents and guardians, and appreciate the support we receive from first responders and others. 
School district personnel are the best source to receive the most up-to-date information about our schools. We encourage you to stay informed at any of the resources found on this page – http://www.cairodurham.org/updates – from social media to email alerts.   
Today is the last day of school before winter break. We look forward to welcoming students back on Monday, February 26. As always, if you have any concern or questions, I encourage you to reach out to your building principal or my office. Thank you. 
Anthony Taibi, Superintendent


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