Posted Date: 12/10/2021
Dear NPS Families,
As you have likely heard by now, an arrest has been made in connection with the hoax threats at Norwalk High School and P-TECH Norwalk over the past week. While these incidents did not directly affect everyone, we recognize how stressful the multiple alleged threats have been for students, staff and families across the district.
The safety of our students and staff is our most important priority, and a threat to any of our schools, whether credible or not, is taken very seriously. When we learn of any potential incident, we respond as quickly and efficiently as possible in real time. Any threat, regardless of intent, setting, individual, or feasibility, is treated as credible and is thoroughly investigated in collaboration with the Norwalk Police Department. Individuals or groups who are found to be associated with any threats will face consequences that may include arrest, suspension and/or expulsion.
We know that there are also rumors circulating about fights and other disruptions, particularly at our high schools. Please know that many of these rumors are either exaggerated or unfounded, although it is true that students are displaying higher levels of stress and anxiety following Covid’s interruption to education. Norwalk is not alone in that regard; this is a trend across the country. We are working closely with our school leaders to make sure our teachers and staff have the resources and skills to support students through these challenging times.
Throughout the year, our school staff engages in training and professional learning surrounding social emotional health. We have resources available in our schools to help students who need support, and will continue to have our district crisis team available. This includes counselors, social workers and psychologists across the district, supported by staff from Mid-Fairfield Child Guidance, Family & Children’s Agency, and other community partners.
In addition to the tools, protocols and resources that the district has in place, we ask that parents talk to their children about how they are feeling. Please encourage middle and high school students to utilize the Anonymous Alerts system, an anonymous anti-bullying app and reporting system for bullying, depression, drugs and safety threats. If you or your child has any information that may assist in proactively preventing these types of incidents in the future, please contact the Norwalk Police Department or a trusted NPS staff member. You can also help by remaining vigilant when it comes to monitoring social media usage for messages and photos that may be hurtful or damaging to another person. To ensure healthy social emotional support for children, be mindful of signs such as behavioral changes, depression or anxiety.
Below are organizations and resources locally available to families who are in need. Any family who would like to have a conversation regarding utilization of mental health supports, please do not hesitate to connect with your school administrator.
National Alliance on Mental Illness: https://namict.org/
Kids in Crisis: https://www.kidsincrisis.org/
Child Health and Development Institute of CT: https://www.chdi.org/
Department of Children and Families, Community-Based Mental Health Services: https://portal.ct.gov/DCF/Community-Mental-Health-Services/Home#CMHIR
Finally, we are continuously working to improve all safety plans across the district, including individualized safety protocols at each school. Over the past month, we convened a new districtwide safety task force. This task force has started the work to re-examine all aspects of school security, including how we can better address students who may be struggling. We will have more information available for you next week about the task force’s work.
With so much going on in the world, we understand your concerns about safety in our schools. We will continue to keep you updated about the work we are doing to ensure a safe learning and work environment.
As always, thank you for your support.
Dr. Alexandra Estrella