WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — Westborough School Superintendent Marianne O'Connor is no stranger to the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in Newtown, Conn. — her granddaughter would have attended the school if she was a few months older, she said.
"Newtown is a safe town just like Westborough. That's why my son and his wife chose to live there and raise their kids," she said.
To affirm the feeling of safety for "any student who might have been reticent to show up," police officers were stationed at all Westborough schools Monday.
The one-day initiative is one of several safeguards, including a school liaison officer at the high school, locked school doors at all times and a buzzer entry system, said O'Connor.
"It was a general demonstration that, in Westborough, we do everything in our power to keep you safe," she said. "Our awareness to this has definitely been heightened."
The shooting was addressed proactively at the high school and middle school, where a moment of silence was held. Mill Pond principal Irene Hatherley addressed students during Monday's morning announcements, and scripts were made available to teachers by the guidance departments, detailing the best ways to approach the topic with students.
The elementary schools were directed to be responsive, because some students were too young to understand the tragic events or had not yet been told, Hastings Elementary Principal Leigh Becker said.
The goal was to keep students in normal routines, where they feel most comfortable, Becker said.
"Every one kind of has to process it in their own way," she said. "And it takes time."
Tragedies can strike anywhere, Becker said, but students, parents and teachers must avoid obsessing over the event.
"We can't focus too much on what could possibly happen or we wouldn't be able to do our jobs," she said. "We wouldn't be able to come to work every day and teach the kids, care for them, reassure them and make them feel safe if we were too focused on all the terrible things that could happen."
Becker sent a message to all parents over the weekend on how the events would be addressed. A few students went up to her to talk about the tragedy, she said.
"You just take what you can, learn from it and move forward," she said. "It reminds us how important it is to be grateful for every day."