Interim Greenwich Schools Superintendent Dr. Sal Corda emailed the following letter to Greenwich Public Schools Parents on Oct 5, 2016 in response to a viral hoax involving creepy clowns.
Dear Greenwich Public School Parents,
You may be aware of internet threats suggesting violent acts in schools and communities from people claiming to be “crazy clowns.” This is a national trend that is currently viewed as a viral prank.
Some schools in Connecticut have been recipients of these prank threats. Unfortunately, many of our students are aware of this and, understandably, in these times, they are concerned about their safety.
The Greenwich Police Department has advised us that they are not aware of any credible threats related to “crazy clowns” that have been made in or around Greenwich.
I want to share with you what we are doing to ensure the safety of our students and ask that you speak with your children, in an age appropriate way, to reassure them that we in the schools take our responsibility seriously and do all we can to make sure they are safe.
School Safety Actions
• Through activities related to our district norm, “Be Safe,” we speak to our students, in age appropriate ways, about the importance of safety and how they need to be aware of their surroundings to help us to keep them safe.
• We conduct a number of safety drills throughout the course of the year. In addition to required fire drills, by the end of October 2016 all schools will have participated in lockdown drills.
• All school personnel are well versed in our safety protocols and these have been reviewed as part of our annual back to school protocols.
• We are in regular communication with our school resource officer and the Greenwich police department about any issues related to safety. When circumstances require it, specific, focused actions by the police are taken to address any emergent issue.
Talking to your children about the Crazy Clown phenomenon
• For elementary school children, we do not recommend speaking to the children specifically about the “crazy clown” threat. While many people see clowns as symbolic of silly fun, others actually find clowns scary. We think it is wiser to have a conversation about safety and those steps that are taken in school to make sure that all of our students are safe in school.
• For middle school and high school students, it would be appropriate to remark that this is a phenomenon they may have seen on the internet or heard about, and that you have received a letter from the superintendent of schools reinforcing that the police have indicated that no credible threats have been received in Greenwich. I would further reinforce with them that we, in the schools, and the police department have a heightened sensitivity to this issue and are monitoring a variety of sources regularly.
• For this year, in those schools where students are permitted to come to school dressed in a costume for Halloween, no clown costumes will be allowed.
• It seems prudent to avoid the possibility of raising any anxiety that this might cause.
• Reinforce with students of all ages that, if they see or hear anything that does not seem ‘right’, tell a responsible adult.
• Reinforce with all students that we care deeply about them and that the schools have in place procedures to make sure that they are safe.
Our goal is to work with you to ensure that our children know that they are precious to us, that they feel safe and secure, and that they are cared for and protected by the adults who are responsible for them.
Salvatore J. Corda, Ph.D.
Greenwich Public Schools