In an attempt to answer some of the ongoing questions surrounding active shooter drills in Pinellas County schools, educators have rolled out a new set of online resources for parents.
Along with videos and copies of staff and student training materials, the School Safety Parent Tool Kit provides suggestions on how those with younger children can talk about school safety with their kids.
The resources, provided by John Hopkins All Children's Hospital, say discussions should be general and focused on safety rather than possible dangers.
Children should know that school is a safe place and that school shootings are rare, the paperwork says.
"The most important thing for a young child to know is that if there is an emergency, they need to follow directions from trusted adults to keep them safe," according to a page with talking points for children in kindergarten through second grade.
Similar paperwork for parents with students in grades 3 through 5 suggests they let their child lead conversations and provide simple, direct answers when they ask questions.
"Letting school-age children guide the conversation allows them to be … in charge of what and how much they want to hear," the paper work says. "If your child shows concern, help him or her to identify/name their feelings, let them know it is okay to feel scared or worried, and weave in positive or hopeful messages."
Since a new law directed Florida schools to hold regular active shooter drills this year, Pinellas' way of meeting the requirement has garnered mixed reviews.
Some have said the trainings, held monthly, are too frequent. Others have worried about the long-term effects the drills could have on younger students.
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In August, for example, the district scrapped its plans to show videos to elementary students after backlash from parents in emails, calls and social media posts.
Those videos, as well as those shown in middle and high school classrooms, are included in the new tool kit for parents to share with their children if they wish.
Contact Megan Reeves at email@example.com. Follow @mareevs.