The safety and wellbeing of our students and staff are our top priorities. Each student comes to school with a unique story, personal dilemmas, and hopefully, positive experiences. Some are witnessing pain and devastation in their countries of their heritage and identity. We are focused on creating a sense of belonging and community at each of our schools for all students and staff.
We share parent and staff concerns over the social media content tied to an attempt at global mobilization around the events occurring in the Middle East. The content refers to a global protest promoted for Oct. 13, 2023. Schools will be in session tomorrow, on normal Friday schedules.
My leadership team and I remain in constant communication with local law enforcement agencies to stay up to date on these concerns. Both the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Lost Hills Station serving Malibu have shared that there are no credible threats locally. They will continue to monitor the situation and will advise us of any changes. We appreciate our law enforcement partners.
Santa Monica schools:
“Our police department uniformed personnel will be more visible throughout our local area schools and places of worship; more police personnel are being deployed throughout the city,” said SMPD Chief Ramon Batista. “Our goal is community safety and normalcy during this turbulent period abroad. We implore our community to be proactive, if residents see something that is out of the ordinary we ask them to call.”
“We are aware of recent statements made calling for action as it relates to the conflict in the Middle East,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna. “We have no information of any specific or credible threats in our areas and are continuing to assess the situation for any local impact in Los Angeles County. We are closely monitoring the situation and frequently communicating with our local, state, and federal government partners to share information. We are conducting extra patrol checks and reaching out to our local religious communities to reassure them during this tumultuous time. We urge the community who attend demonstrations to remain calm and peaceful. The safety and security of all our communities is our number one priority. We remind residents to stay vigilant and report anything suspicious to local law enforcement officials.”
Parents, caregivers, and educators are faced with the challenge of explaining violence and war to our children. Although difficult, these conversations are extremely important. In light of what is happening around the world, here are some helpful tips on how to talk to your children about war and conflict:
- Find out what your children know and how they feel: The news can be terrifying. Try to shield them from disturbing images or videos. This includes closely monitoring their social media.
- Keep it calm and age-appropriate: Children have a right to know what’s going on in the world, but adults are also responsible for protecting them from distress. Try not to overshare any fears with your children.
- Spread compassion, not stigma – this can be challenging when talking about war. Focus on messaging that everyone deserves to be safe at school and in society. Bullying and discrimination are always wrong.
- There are adults at school for your children to talk to. SMMUSD has mental health support available and partners with local agencies to provide short-term, one-to-one mental health support for our children in need. Please reach out to your children’s teacher, counselor, assistant principal, or principal, who can help to connect your children with these resources.
Below are some additional resources for parents and educators:
- National Association of School Psychologists: Supporting Youth Affected by the Violence in Israel and Gaza: Tips for Families and Educators
- Common Sense Media: How do I talk to my kids about violence in the news
- Child Mind Institute: Helping children cope after a traumatic event
- Verywell Family: Talking to Your Kids About War
Please continue to take care of yourselves and each other.
Dr. Antonio Shelton, Superintendent