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Message from your Superintendent

Dear Parents and/or Guardians, By now you have likely heard of the terrible shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. These recent events have both saddened and shaken us all. Our hearts go out to the victims and families of this tragedy. For the Ontario School District, I would like to reassure our families that nothing will ever be more important than the safety and security of our students and staff. Every day our focus is on ensuring that our children are learning in a safe environment. Safety will continue to be our priority. Incidents like the Florida school tragedy remind us how important it is for all of the Ontario School District staff to be trained for emergencies of all kinds and to continue to regularly practice their emergency responses with students. A detailed emergency response plan for lockdowns in the event that it should be necessary will be reviewed and updated with all staff. We will continue to work proactively with the Ontario Police and Malheur County Sherriff’s department to share information. We support our schools with training and tools so they are equipped to handle a variety of emergency situations. Events like these also serve as important reminders for families to make sure they have provided schools with updated contact information. To anyone visiting Ontario Schools, please always be sure to check in with the office to receive a visitors badge. If you are on campus and you do not have a badge, please do not be offended if a staff member directs you back to the office. Please know that your child’s safety is our number one priority and we take all reasonable precautions to keep students safe. Please keep in mind that protecting our children is a community effort. In many instances, persons who carry out a violent act told someone in advance of their intentions. If you hear of such a threat, please report to a police officer or a school official. Although we can never guarantee that nothing is ever going to happen in one of our schools or in our community, what we can do is be planful, vigilant, and proactive when it comes to the safety of our schools and its children. We don’t want children to be fearful of coming to school, and we’re worried that the children may absorb too much of the media coverage. It’s natural for children and teens to worry about whether this type of incident may someday affect them. It is important for children to feel like they can share their feelings and know that their fears and anxieties are understandable. Talking with your children about these tragedies, and what they watch or hear about them, can put frightening information into context. To calm fears about the news, families should be prepared to deliver what psychologists call “calm, unequivocal, but limited information.” This means delivering the truth, but in a way that fits the emotional level of your child. The key is to be truthful, but not go into more detail than your child is interested or can handle. Encourage your children to talk openly about what scares them. Older children or teens might be less likely to accept an explanation at face value. If an older child is bothered about a story, help him or her cope with these fears. An adult’s willingness to listen will send a powerful message of reassurance to a child. Some points to keep in mind as you talk with children:  Find out what your child knows about the news.  Listen to what your child tells you.  Ask a follow-up question.  Avoid repeated TV viewings of the same news event.  Monitor older children's exposure to the news.  Develop an ongoing dialogue with your child about what's happening in the world. School counselors are also available to assist families. Please contact your school’s counselor if you need additional support. We extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to the Parkland School community.   Sincerely, Nicole Albisu Ontario School District Superintendent