(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) In the wake of a horrific elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Arlington Public Schools officials are assuring parents that teachers, staff and students are well-prepared for emergencies.
Individual schools have been sending emails to parents throughout the day, says Assistant Superintendent for School and Community Relations Linda Erdos. Schools drill regularly for a range of emergencies, Erdos said, adding that several Arlington schools conducted a pre-planned lockdown drill this morning.
“All of our plans and preparations are developed in coordination with Arlington public safety officials,” she said. ”Our schools all throughout the county regularly schedule lockdown drills. We do those all the time, just like tornado drills and fire drills. We do a lot of drills with our students so they know what steps are to be taken in an emergency.”
“We all take it very seriously,” Erdos continued. “We will continue to be vigilant and follow normal procedures.”
In an email to parents, the principal of one Arlington elementary school called the events of this morning a “terrible tragedy.”
“Like many of you, all of us… have been shocked and saddened by the terrible tragedy that took place at an elementary school in Connecticut this morning,” wrote the principal. “Our sincere thoughts and prayers go out to the Newtown community and all of the families that have been touched by this event.”
“We also want to remind you that we need your emergency contact information updated any time it changes. We need accurate phone numbers and addresses,” the principal wrote, adding: “Please make sure that you come through our front doors and sign in the office so that we know exactly who is in our building at all times.”
Congressman Jim Moran, meanwhile, released a statement about the shooting this afternoon.
As our country struggles to comprehend what occurred today in Newtown, CT, my deepest condolences go out to the families and friends of those killed in this mindless tragedy. As a nation, we are again confronted with an act of terrifying mass gun violence. While the coming days should be reserved for grieving, as a legislative body, and as a people, we must consider what can be done to improve our laws to prevent the continuation of this horrific trend.
Bishop Paul S. Loverde, of the Diocese of Arlington, also issued a statement about the shooting Friday afternoon:
Today’s horrific news from Newtown, Connecticut, breaks our hearts. In the face of such evil and violence, there are no words adequate to describe the loss. Let us each, today and throughout the coming days, commit to praying for the souls of the departed victims and the families of all those involved.