Reaction from Tampa Bay school districts and officials to the Uvalde mass shooting
Pasco County schools will have an increased law enforcement presence, while officials expressed sadness and urged students to report suspicious activity and reach out if they're struggling to cope with the tragedy.
School districts around the greater Tampa Bay region are reacting to Tuesday's mass shooting at a Texas school, just days before the start of summer break here.
The Pasco County Sheriff's Office says it will have increased law enforcement presence for the last day of school on Wednesday out of what it calls an "abundance of caution."
Our hearts and thoughts are with those affected by the horrific tragedy in Uvalde, Texas. To ease concerns that parents, guardians, students, teachers and staff may have in response to this, PSO will have an increased law enforcement presence at Pasco County schools... (1/2) pic.twitter.com/hl7rFY6HXq— Pasco Sheriff (@PascoSheriff) May 24, 2022
Pinellas County Superintendent Michael Grego issued a statement Tuesday night, urging students to report any suspicious activity by calling an adult, contacting law enforcement, or reporting anonymously at getfortify.fl.com.
"The safety of our students and staff remains the top priority in our district," Grego said in the statement. "We take our responsibility to ensure the safety of our schools seriously. As a district, we continuously coordinate with our law enforcement partners throughout Pinellas County to prepare for any type of emergency and, as you know, regularly practice our safety procedures with students and staff through discussions and emergency exercises.
"Our School Resource Officers, School Safety Officers, Pinellas County Schools Police and all local law enforcement agencies work collaboratively on a daily basis and are committed to the safety and security across all district buildings."
This is the last week of school across the greater Tampa Bay region. Pinellas and Manatee counties wrap up Thursday, and Friday is the final day in Hillsborough, Sarasota, Polk, and Hernando counties.
In his statement, Grego also urged students and parents to reach out to students and family members who are struggling to cope with the news.
"It is also important for all of us to support our students who may be feeling worried about their own safety or the safety of their loved ones," Grego said in the statement. "Here is a link to tips from the National Association of School Psychologists that you can utilize as a resource with your child(ren). Our Student Services teams are ready to support any student, family or staff member experiencing difficulty following today’s tragedy.
Other school districts and law enforcement agencies reacted on social media:
We can keep arguing & focusing on political differences after the latest mass shooting, or we can actually seek common sense consensus to keep guns away from people who should not have them. Florida legislators did it after Parkland, & Congress can do it today. We can save lives.— Jane Castor (@JaneCastor) May 25, 2022
Enough is enough. We must stand united with the community in Texas where unimaginable evil took the lives of innocent children and staff members today. Schools should be a sanctuary of safety for our students & employees. Our hearts are with the victims and their family members.— Addison Davis (@AddisonGDavis) May 24, 2022
Supt Kurt Browning:The news of the school shooting in Texas is absolutely sickening. Our hearts go out to the victims & families affected by this tragedy. All SROs, security guards & staff will be laser focused on keeping students & staff safe on the last day of school tomorrow.— Pasco County Schools (@pascoschools) May 24, 2022
You can read the latest NPR coverage news out of Texas here.