Business as usual: How Quincy Public Schools will handle the Newtown tragedy

Students and teachers across the country went back to school for the first time today since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.

Many teachers and administrators struggled with the question of whether to talk about it with students.

After many discussions about how to handle this situation, Ellington Elementary School decided teachers and staff would answer questions from students who are curious, but would not bring up the topic for discussion.

Principal Anne Cashman believes this topic could cause great anxiety in Ellington's kindergarten through third graders. Ellington Elementary School is following the motto "business as usual." Cashman said the only changes in her school since the tragedy are increased security. She also trained her staff how to use the intercom for emergency use.

"If the student came up and needed to talk about it or wanted to talk about it, then that would be the time we address it. My understanding from psychologists is that based on child's age, at this age, probably the less said, the better. We don't want to increase any anxiety or fear," said Cashman.

Cashman said bringing it up in school could introduce the issue to students whose parent didn't necessarily want them to know.

Angela McCabe has a son in first grade at Ellington. She felt it was important that she told him about the tragedy.

"He has questioned me about why there are so many bad people in the world. It's hard to answer, it really is... But I tell him that sometimes there just are. Some people can't help themselves. They have to do bad," said McCabe.

Family therapist Penni Ippensen recommends parents speak with their children about the tragedy, but carefully.

"Sometimes you need to remember what is it that you need to hear and what is it that they need to hear. You need to keep that in mind. Once your kid starts to look overwhelmed, or perhaps not really listening or eager to walk off, then that's your cue that the kid has taken in too much," said Ippensen.

Interim superintendent Cal Lee posted a letter on the Quincy Public Schools website, offering parents advice on how to speak with their children about violence. The letter can be found here.

The Parent Encouragement Program out of Kennsington, Maryland has information on different ways to approach your children about the school tragedy here.