WEST ORANGE, NJ — Following the tragic shooting in Florida, West Orange Superintendent of Schools Jeff Rutzky released the following message to the school community on behalf of the district.
“Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the tragic incident. As educators, each and every time this occurs, it cuts us to our core and we feel every one of these senseless tragedies incredibly deeply.
"I want to reassure you that the safety of our students and our staff is the highest priority. A very special thank you to the teachers and counselors for their unconditional love and support for our students. Their job is always challenging, however, today was a much more difficult day than usual.
"Our focus today was to support and help our students, parents and staff, as many were frightened, sad, and/or anxious. In visiting all of the schools, the building administrators, counselors, and teachers I spoke with indicated that the students and staff were coping well.
"Our teachers and staff were watching for any students who may have needed to talk about the incident. As such, the police presence was well received and will continue tomorrow and next week.
"Thankfully, all schools reported a safe and uneventful drop-off and pick up. Please continue to be patient at drop-off and pick-up as we reassess our procedures to make sure we are doing everything we can to protect your child.
"Please know that we regularly meet to review our District Crisis Plan and Emergency Response Plan. Each school has a crisis management team to evaluate security procedures. These groups include members from the West Orange Police Department.
"As required by the New Jersey Department of Education, each school must practice 2 safety drills per month, with one drill being a fire drill. We will continue to work with the police to have the most effective Emergency Response Plan possible and continue to annually update the district security equipment.
"We realize that students may have questions or fears if they have heard the news reports. Resources for families to help their children cope with news of violence are listed on each schools landing page. It is titled Resources for Parents—Feeling Safe. If your child needs support at school, please communicate with your child's teacher(s), counselor, or principal.
"When entering your child’s school, please comply with the building procedures when signing your child in or out of school or visiting the school for a function.
"I offer my sincere condolences to the families of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.”