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Here’s what Tampa Bay school leaders are saying about the Texas shooting

“Our most valuable resource is our sense of responsibility toward each other.”
This March 2022 photo provided by Manny Renfro shows his grandson, Uziyah Garcia, while on spring break in San Angelo, Texas. The 8-year-old  was among those killed in Tuesday's shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24 in Uvalde, Texas.
This March 2022 photo provided by Manny Renfro shows his grandson, Uziyah Garcia, while on spring break in San Angelo, Texas. The 8-year-old was among those killed in Tuesday's shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24 in Uvalde, Texas. [ MANNY RENFRO | AP ]
Published May 25|Updated May 25

Top officials from Tampa Bay’s public school systems reacted with statements late Tuesday regarding the shooting that left 19 children and two adults dead at a Texas elementary school. Their messages were primarily directed to school staff, but also to families. Here is a look at what they had to say:

Hillsborough County

Team Hillsborough,

It is likely that by now you have seen the devastating news out of Texas. As of this email, 14 students and one teacher have been killed in a shooting inside an elementary school. It is a nightmare scenario for any community; one that we prepare for and hope we never experience.

Students and staff deserve a safe and secure place to learn and work. Hillsborough County Public Schools has invested heavily in securing our campuses to prevent tragedies like the one witnessed today.

Hillsborough superintendent Addison Davis
Hillsborough superintendent Addison Davis [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

While we will continue to invest in safety throughout our campuses, we must also remember that we can help keep each other safe by remaining vigilant and taking advantage of the many resources the district provides. We have invested in placing security officers on every campus, ensuring access control, and installing the Centegix Alert System that allows school district employees to call for assistance immediately at any time when a threat is realized.

I understand that the last week of school can be stressful and this horrendous act heightens our anxieties and could potentially cause angst. At this time, I am asking that we band together to take care of each other and continue to serve and protect our students every single day. Our school and district based leaders are here to support each of you to ensure that safety remains our first priority. Collectively, we must stand together with the community of Uvalde, Texas, where this unimaginable tragedy occurred. Our hearts are with the victims and their families as they navigate through this trying time.

I cannot thank each of you enough for what you do for our students and our community.

Respectfully,

Addison G. Davis

Superintendent of Schools

Hillsborough County Public Schools

• • •

Pinellas County

Dear Pinellas County Schools Colleagues,

We were deeply saddened to hear the news of the school shooting today at an elementary school in Uvalde, TX. Our thoughts and prayers are with the members of that community and know that this may heighten stress for both students and staff in school districts across the nation.

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The safety of our students and staff remains the top priority in our district. We take our responsibility to ensure the safety of our schools seriously. As a district, we continuously coordinate with our law enforcement partners throughout Pinellas County to prepare for any type of emergency and, as you know, regularly practice our safety procedures with students and staff through discussions and emergency exercises. Our School Resource Officers, School Safety Officers, Pinellas County Schools Police and all local law enforcement agencies work collaboratively on a daily basis and are committed to the safety and security across all district buildings.

Pinellas superintendent Mike Grego
Pinellas superintendent Mike Grego

As a part of our Pinellas County Schools community, we all play a role in the safety of our schools and work sites. Remember, if we see something, we say something. Just as we ask our students and families to report any safety concerns, staff members play a vital role in reporting. You can always speak with a supervisor, administrator or report through our Say Something or FortifyFL anonymous reporting systems. All information, tips or threats are investigated by law enforcement.

While no amount of planning can guarantee that a tragedy will not occur, we are doing everything we know to keep students and staff safe while at school and work. I would like to take this opportunity to remind each staff member to review the plans in place for emergency situations at your school building or work site. If you have any questions regarding the site-specific plans, do not hesitate to speak with your supervisor or building administrator.

It is also important for us to support our students during difficult times. Here is a link to tips from the National Association of School Psychologists that parents and teachers can utilize as a resource if students are feeling worried about their own safety or the safety of their loved ones. Our Student Services teams are ready to support any student, family or staff member experiencing difficulty following today’s tragedy.

The end of the school year brings many celebrations to honor the tremendous work of our schools. As we celebrate our accomplishments, we struggle as we mourn the loss of life. We must also work together to promote a culture where everyone has a responsibility to be vigilant and focused on safety in our district.

Sincerely,

Michael A. Grego, Ed.D.

Superintendent

• • •

Pasco County

Pasco Schools Team,

Given the horrific news of a school shooting at an elementary school in Texas today, I want to touch base with the entire Pasco Schools Team as we look forward to our last day of school tomorrow.

First, I want to acknowledge the enormity of the loss due to this unspeakable crime. Our hearts go out to the victims and family members in Uvalde, Texas. Their entire community has been traumatized by this tragedy and I can’t even imagine what they’re going through right now.

Pasco superintendent Kurt Browning
Pasco superintendent Kurt Browning [ Pasco County School District ]

I want to remind everyone that over the years Pasco County Schools has gone to great lengths to secure our classrooms and buildings, and to train our staff and students to be vigilant at all times. Those actions have served us well. Still, our most valuable resource is our sense of responsibility toward each other and our commitment to the idea that the safety of our students and staff is our highest priority.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) is the students’ last day of school. I fervently hope it will be a celebratory day for our students as they prepare for the summer break. I urge everyone to be laser focused on safety, to be supportive of each other, and to keep the people of Uvalde, Texas in your prayers.

Thank you.

Kurt S. Browning

Pasco County Superintendent of Schools

Hernando County

We are devastated by yesterday’s tragedy in Texas. Schools are special places within every community because a school is a community of special people who work together on behalf of children everyday. Today, we will spend time trying to comprehend the incomprehensible, to explain the unexplainable, to comfort the grieving.

Hernando superintendent John Stratton {Hernando County School District]
Hernando superintendent John Stratton {Hernando County School District]

Sometimes we may agree or disagree on the issues of the day but there is one that we are all united by — the safety of our children. For those of us who lead schools, our vigilance and our resolve to keep students and staff safe remains firm, supported by the partnership of law enforcement, our parents and our community. On behalf of the Hernando School District, we lend our message of sympathy and support to the Uvalde families and their community. May the days ahead bring healing and peace.

John Stratton

Superintendent of Schools

Hernando County School District

• • •

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