March 1, 2018
Dear Stamford Public Schools Families,
As you may know, following the tragic shooting in a Florida on February 14, students around the country are planning a walkout to express concern over gun violence. In Stamford Public Schools, we recognize that students who express empathy for their peers in Florida are demonstrating the very habits of heart that we wish to cultivate in all. Additionally, we appreciate and support our students’ desire to exercise their habits of mind by seeking to understand the multiple perspectives around ways to address such tragedies. We know when students advocate for an issue they feel passionately about, it can be a powerful learning experience, and we want to facilitate that learning in our schools.
Our high school student leaders have been working closely with their school administration to plan learning activities, culminating with a walkout on school grounds on March 14. We recognize and support both the students who may, or may not, want to participate in a walkout. Please be assured that classes will continue on their normal schedule on March 14. We will deploy staff as necessary and are working with the Stamford Police Department to ensure student safety during this activity. We want all students to feel safe and respected, no matter what they choose to do. Although we appreciate that some high school parents may also want to support this movement, due to safety concerns of managing and supervising visitors, we cannot allow parents on school grounds during this time. Instead, we encourage parents to engage in meaningful discussions with their students at home following the day’s activities.
In the middle school grades, including our K-8 school, we do not believe a walkout is the best way to create a teachable moment; moreover it would strain our law enforcement resources. Instead, our school principals are encouraged to work with their student leaders and staff members who may want to develop appropriate age-level activities at their schools.
Finally, given the sensitive nature of the topic, we do not believe that general instruction around the shooting should occur with our elementary students.
Any parent whose student expresses an interest in discussing this issue is encouraged to use the resources provided by the Connecticut State Department of Education. Additionally all of our schools have staff members, guidance counselors, social workers and/or school psychologist who are also on hand to address your child’s needs.
Thank you for your cooperation and support of Stamford Public Schools
Stamford Public Schools Superintendent