Dear South Colonie Parents/Guardians,
As we prepare to bring students back to campus tomorrow, Wednesday, Feb. 16, we wanted to share some information with our larger school community about the measures being put in place to support staff and students at this time.
Staff training and support
Today, Sand Creek Middle School staff members began the morning in grade level groups facilitated by the district’s mental health team to assess staff needs moving forward and to review a plan for best supporting students returning to school on Wednesday. Topics reviewed included tips to help children in time of transition or tragedy, how to best observe a child’s emotional state and identify the need for additional support, and how to keep explanations of topics developmentally appropriate for students.
As a reminder, our South Colonie District Mental Health team is committed to fostering emotional wellness in our school community through the use of education, consultation, prevention, intervention, and the development of community partnerships. More information on this group of individuals and their work within the district can be found here.
We know that change impacts everyone differently and that our students will likely have a range of varying emotions related to the events of this week. With that being said, the district has identified a teacher (Mr. Frank Pizzo) to resume the instructional responsibilities of Mr. Morgan’s classroom. Mr. Pizzo will transition to this position effective tomorrow and will work in collaboration with the existing fifth grade team teacher to minimize the impact to students as much as possible. Mr. Pizzo is a familiar face in the Sand Creek school community as he has recently served first as a student teacher and then a building substitute after completing his teacher certification program at St. Rose.
Sharing information with students
As more details become available regarding the ongoing investigation with Mr. Morgan, we want to inform you that the information communicated with students will be age appropriate and limited. Tomorrow morning when students return, Principal Marohn will make a general announcement to students informing them of Mr. Morgan’s arrest without details. Teachers and mental health professionals will simultaneously be available to address questions and provide a safe space for expressing emotions. We ask that parents/guardians work within their individual comfort level to provide what details they feel are appropriate for their child/student prior to the return to school with the understanding that individual conversations may take place among students.
Whenever children experience trauma the best way to help them cope is by establishing a sense of safety and security. Parents/guardians are encouraged to keep the lines of communication open with their child and reach out to the school if they feel that additional support is needed for them or their family. Families who need support can also email firstname.lastname@example.org and someone from the district’s mental health team will respond as soon as possible.
We know preparing for your child(ren) to return to school can be challenging and you may have mixed feelings regarding the safety of your child on campus. The district takes situations that involve student and staff safety very seriously and we would never bring students back to school if we felt there was a threat to them or that our staff were not prepared to support them.
I want to reiterate that the Colonie Police Department has indicated at this time that there is no evidence to suggest that students were involved with any of the alleged actions of Mr. Morgan and that they have conducted a full sweep of the property and found no evidence of additional cameras on the premises.
We look forward to coming together tomorrow with our students, faculty and staff to continue the great work being done in our school buildings. Together, we can work to move forward, while creating a positive environment to do what we do best—learning, inspiring and believing in one another.
Dr. David Perry
Superintendent of Schools