FARMINGTON — On Wednesday, May 25, Regional School Unit 9 Superintendent Chris Elkington released a memo to the community addressing the mass shooting where nineteen children and two elementary school teachers were killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, May 24.

The shooting has sent shockwaves across the country. Parents are expressing fears about sending their children to school, while activists, politicians and citizens alike urge the government to take action against gun violence.

“There are no adequate words to express how those of us who either send our children to school or who have made working in schools our life’s work feel about what we witnessed in Texas yesterday,” Elkington wrote. “Like you, I am deeply shocked by the news of the shooting at Robb Elementary School. And like you, I share in the heartbreak of those families and their friends who have lost a loved one and for the staff at Robb Elementary School, who I am sure loved these children as their own.”

Elkington referenced statistics about the rate of gun violence at schools in 2022.

According to NPR, the Texas massacre is the 27th school shooting with injuries or deaths this year.

Additionally, Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit fighting gun violence reports that there have been 948 school shootings since 2012, when 20 children between the ages of six and seven alongside six staff members were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.


“The fact that our nation’s leaders are unwilling or unable to find common ground that would help make our schools, children, and staff safer is incredibly discouraging,” Elkington wrote. “Instead, we are left with having to protect ourselves the best we can and hope we won’t face similar circumstances here.”

Elkington explained that RSU 9 administration and staff are “working very hard to do everything we can to ensure the safety of our schools.”

Principals at RSU 9’s seven schools have sent notes home with students explaining the district’s security protocols.

There are “several safety plans” at each school, Elkington said, and there is a District Safety Team comprised of school administration, county emergency management personnel and local law enforcement that reviews “district and community-wide issues.”

The district has conducted active shooter drills with law enforcement “to familiarize area law enforcement officers with our school layouts, which will expedite their response times and effectiveness should the unthinkable happen.”

Elkington also explained the district’s active shooter response and prevention plans. They include:


• Lockdown and lockout protocols practiced throughout the year.

• Training staff in the “Avoid, Deny, Defend” strategy “to respond to an active shooter incident.”

• “Assessing possible behavioral threats” through training a team at each school in Maine School Safety Center’s Comprehensive School Threat Assessment Guidelines “to determine threat levels of students involved in school-related incidents.”

Elkington acknowledged that “acts of violence … will impact the physical and mental well-being of some of our children, staff and families” but assured “you are not alone and support is available.”

“We know that our children and young adults will process what happened in Texas in different ways and so we strongly encourage any of our students who feel the need to stop by and see their school’s counselor, nurse, or social worker to do so at any time,” Elkington wrote. “We also encourage you to connect with your children, family, and friends to support each other and seek help if needed.”

He also included documents and sourced the National Association of School Psychologists to help parents with “age-appropriate” conversations as “students will likely want to share their emotions and to receive support from you.”

Finally, Elkington discussed his working relationship with Janet Robinson the superintendent of schools for Sandy Hook Elementary School when those 20 children were killed.

“What I learned from Janet is that you need to know your kids as well as you possibly can, you need to prepare your kids to face a possibly terrifying emergency, and that school staff and the community must be prepared for the possibility of dealing with a horrific event. Two-way communication between schools and our families is critical,” Elkington concluded. “I want to assure you that the staff of RSU 9 is committed to the social and emotional well-being and safety of our students, staff, and schools. School should and must be a place where students feel safe and where you, as parents, feel that your kids are safe.”

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