By LISA M.
IRON MOUNTAIN - Parents are hugging their children a little closer this weekend following the news of a deadly shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., on Friday morning.
Two school superintendents with young children of their own provided some advice in light of the tragic news that left 28 people dead, including 20 children, after a man opened fire.
Lou Steigerwald, superintendent of Norway-Vulcan Area Schools, said there are no words that can explain what happened on Friday.
"Today is one of the saddest days I have seen in my 20-plus years in this business," he said on Friday. "The best we can offer as parents is that some things are not explainable or understandable."
Tom Jayne, superintendent of Iron Mountain Schools, said parents should tell their children they are loved, safe and the bad man is gone.
"The man that did this has passed away," he said. "It is OK to talk to parents about this."
Steigerwald added parents should be honest and share that they are as upset about what happened as their children are.
"Tell them you love them and that you do your best every day to make certain they are safe and that the folks who work at school care about their safety and do their best to keep them safe, too," Steigerwald said.
"It is important that their concerns be acknowledged and treated honestly," Steigerwald said. "Considering the nature of the electronic media to replay things over and over again, I would avoid overexposing young children to the disturbing videos and repeated interviews that will go with this process. Be diligent of the internet as well."
Steigerwald added that if mothers or fathers think a child needs attention beyond what they are able to provide, "all of our schools have counselors and social workers who are trained to deal with these tragedies to whom they can turn for advice."
Jayne advised that parents should not be watching news constantly for the next day or two.
"Do something else besides watch this, and reassure students they are safe and their school is safe," he said.
Jayne added that schools have in place safeguards to help prevent this type of tragedy.
"School is a safe place," he said.
Jayne and Steigerwald are fathers of elementary-age children.
Lisa M. Hoffmann's e-mail is email@example.com.