It was a letter he hoped he would never have to send.
"This is an incredibly difficult letter for me to write to you," Douglas County School District Superintendent Thomas Tucker wrote in an email to parents the night of May 7. "Our STEM family is hurting tonight. Our DCSD family is hurting tonight."
Earlier that day, a shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch left one student dead and eight others injured. The two suspects are in custody.
The school will be closed the remainder of the week, Tucker shared with families in the letter. All other DCSD schools would remain open with heightened security, including additional patrols from local law enforcement partners.
On May 8 starting at 8 a.m., a crisis support center at St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch was available to all STEM students, staff and families. On Facebook the school district asked community members to donate blankets, new or gently used, for the individuals who would visit the center. Support staff was on site at all other DCSD schools to help students and staff.
Tucker, along with school districts and mental health organizations across the Denver metro area, offered resources for families in the wake of the Highlands Ranch tragedy.
"We are a united family," Tucker wrote in his letter to families. "We are here to support each and every one of you — students, parents and staff — and will continue to do so as long as needed. Together, we will get through this difficult time."
Below are online resources with tips for how to talk to children about gun violence. A few key takeaways are: Make time to talk to your children, limit exposure to media, be prepared for questions and reassure your children that they are safe.
• National Association of School Psycologists - Talking to children about violence tips for parents
• Parents.com - Advice on how to talk to kids about gun violence
• Children's Hospital - Talking about school shootings
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