Area schools, counselors respond after TX shooting

(ABC 6 News) – Schools across southeast Minnesota took the time to reassure students and families Wednesday in response to the mass shooting at a Texas elementary school.

Multiple districts added more mental health resources Wednesday to help students cope.

Child therapists at Zumbro Valley Health Center, that partner with school systems, encouraged parents and teachers to allow children the space to talk about tragedies like school shootings.

"Because most likely, they’ve all heard what’s happened. So providing that opportunity to say, ‘hey, how have you been feeling about this today? Are there questions that you have about it?’" said Alyssa Sumner, a psychotherapy supervisor at Zumbro Valley Health.

Sumner encourages both parents and teachers to watch for any behavior changes. Changes could be anything from acting out or isolating themselves, to complaining about physical symptoms such as repeated headaches or stomach aches. Significant changes could indicate it is time to seek help outside of school couselors.

"We have worked closely with local law enforcement and other community agencies to create the plans and have engaged in safety drills to help us prepare to the extent possible…We remain firmly committed to providing a physically and psychologically safe environment for learning," Superintendent of Mason City Community Schools Dave Versteeg said.

In Austin, Superintendent Joey Page said they have licensed counselors at each of their sites.

"Keeping our conversations and our explanations developmentally appropriate is important.We work closely with the Austin Police Department. We do have a couple school resource officers," Page said.

Page also said that the district is hoping to expand counseling resources even further in the future.

The National Association of School Psychologists has a guide that provides talking points for discussing violence with children.