Letter: Superintendent shows support offered as students return to school

Although we are all still reeling from the past week, it is time to return to school. There is so much to say about everything. Paradoxically, that may be the reason I want to limit my comments here to our Cambridge school community.

First, and most important, I want to extend my deepest feelings of sadness and support to those who have been affected directly by the Boston Marathon bombing. I am aware of several CPS staff members who were seriously injured and are now recuperating. Several community members also have close family who were hurt, in some cases devastatingly so. To these individuals and to their families, please know that the CPS community holds you close in our hearts and thoughts.

Over the past few days, we have been working hard to ensure that students return to safe, supportive schools. This is not quite as simple as saying it is business as usual. We all know that the world as we knew it has changed. Our strength as a school community resides in our ability and capacity to support our students, staff and one another as we journey through that change together.

We met over the weekend with school and city officials to be sure students had just what they needed Monday morning: an easy entry to school buildings; the welcoming and warm support of teachers and counselors; and a reassuring return to the routine of their school day. We are providing support to our high school faculty and staff, many of whom were acquainted with the suspects. We are collaborating with our trusted and expert community partners such as the Cambridge Health Alliance to ensure our students receive the support and counseling they may need. Our team of CPS and city leaders and staff will debrief at the end of the day on Monday to see how the day has gone and how we can strengthen our approach for Tuesday.

Family members, citizens and others can help by talking to children and reassuring them that the adults are aware of their needs and are dedicated to keeping them safe, physically and emotionally. If you have particular questions or concerns about your child, please contact your school principal and/or counselor. One of the tools we are using with staff and students is guidance from the National Association of School Psychologists, which you are invited to download here.

I am so proud to be part of this community. People pull together here like nowhere else I know. We are an inclusive community, guided by our shared values. We are a place of acceptance and understanding. That may be one reason it is so hard to understand how this could happen in a place such as Cambridge.

In times of stress, we count on one another for good will in rediscovering the ties that bind us. I urge you to focus on what matters most: our kids, our schools, and one another. Please join me in supporting our students and staff through these challenging times with patience and warmth.

Jeffrey M. Young, superintendent of schools

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