Like every one of you, I was saddened and stunned by the mass shooting that took place at a Florida high school yesterday afternoon. Seventeen were murdered and many more injured. The trauma experienced by all who were there is unimaginable.
My heart is heavy. I cried over these news reports, as I am sure you have. I consoled colleagues, hugged students, staff and family members. Although Pasco is a county far north of Broward, the impact is still felt here. We sent our crisis team members out to all secondary campuses, we increased police presence, and we cancelled all drills. During times like these, the mental health supports that can be provided by our student instructional support personnel - school nurses, social workers, counselors, and psychologists is critical to the well being of our communities.
We need thoughts and prayers but I also want to encourage all of you to take action. We have to raise our collective voices to make sure that this unspeakable tragedy does not happen again at any other school. This event just happened to take place in our state this time, but the reality is that we now live in a world where this can happen anywhere, anytime.
We cannot live in a community; we cannot live in a state; we cannot live in a nation where parents send children off to school only to not have them return home safe and sound at the end of the school day. Parents should not have to experience worry, fear and trauma when they send their child to school. Schools should not have to teach children to train for active shooter situations. Children should not have to live in fear when they go to school.
I do not have all of the answers but I would like all of us to consider this:
After we think about this tragedy and after we pray about this tragedy, we need to take action. We all need to write/call/contact our local, state and federal legislators every day until our collective voices are heard and meaningful change in policy takes place. Floridians and all Americans cannot continue to stand by helplessly while more children die.
Thank you for your selfless dedication to the health and well being of our children. You can make a difference. You do make a difference every day. Make your voice heard and take action today. Lives depend on your action.
With sad heart and much love,