In a letter sent out the Albuquerque Public Schools families Wednesday, Superintendent Scott Elder responded to Tuesday’s school shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas. Here’s what he wrote:
Dear APS Community,
It pains me to be writing yet another message to our community about a school shooting, this time in a small town outside of San Antonio, Texas, where at least 19 elementary school students and two teachers were killed. Others were injured. And the entire town—the whole nation—is hurting.
Including all of us in Albuquerque Public Schools.
According to news reports, the fourth graders and their teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde were wrapping up the school year and preparing for summer break when they were inexplicably gunned down.
Until the 18-year-old gunman began his rampage, the elementary school students and staff participated in end-of-year rituals that mirror events occurring even now in our schools. That morning, students received honor roll certificates at a celebration attended by their families. The day before, graduating high school seniors walked the halls in cap and gown, high fiving and inspiring the younger students.
Traditions and happy moments so familiar to us, the pain of this tragedy feels personal, the fear palpable.
When we hear about a school shooting, we can’t help but worry about the safety and wellness of our own children, the students in our schools, and the staff that supports them. We know all too well how devastating it is to lose school a student to gun violence, more and more often at the hand of another young person.
It’s no wonder if you are feeling anxious and concerned. We are as well.
Take solace in knowing that our schools are filled with people who really love our kids and are doing the best they can to watch out for them. We have protocols in place to keep them safe, from site safety plans, school and local police ready to respond quickly to any call, safety training, and open lines of communication.
Every person is impacted differently by a tragedy like this. Some students may view social media and news coverage and worry that the same could happen to them. Others may be less affected. Spend time talking and listening to our students and each other, and don’t hesitate to ask for help for yourself or someone else. Our guidance counselors are ready to offer any assistance needed, as is our Employee Assistance Program. Another reliable resource in times like these is the New Mexico Crisis and Access Line. You can call them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-855-662-7474.
The safety and wellness of students and staff is a top priority for Albuquerque Public Schools. But we can’t do it alone. We all have a role to play in ensuring our schools remain safe places for learning. Please talk to your children about gun safety. Remind them that they should tell an adult if they hear about the possibility of a gun at or near school or if they know about a student who has a weapon.
We repeat it all the time, but saying something when you see something truly makes a difference. It has helped prevent potential problems in the past, and it will help in the future.
Our hearts go out to everyone grieving and anyone shaken by this horrible incident. We will continue to make safety a priority at all of our schools. We appreciate everyone’s support in this effort.
Scott ElderSuperintendent, Albuquerque Public Schools