Local school districts react to deadly Florida high school shooting

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Local school police are prepared to reassure parents and students after deadly Florida high school shooting. (KTRK)

As students across the Houston-area go back to class knowing school violence can happen anywhere, school police are prepared to reassure parents.

Parents are also encouraged to mentally protect their children, too.

"I think after a tragedy like today all parents, and I'm a parent too, all parents will have apprehension," Cleveland ISD Police Chief Rex Evans told Eyewitness News.

Evans is ready for the questions. Thursday will be a day to offer reassurance, he says, after so many parents saw the tragedy in Parkland, Florida and can relate to the fear.

"You don't want parents to leave the driveway with this fear all day long. Is my child going to be okay today," he said.

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His officers like, others in school districts across the Houston-area, participate in active shooter training. They are visible on campus and are encouraged to be approachable. Evans expects a strange mood at campuses this week.

Ty David Lerman, a licensed professional counselor, says parents can protect their children too, mentally.

"I think it's really important as a community to make sure we don't overexpose our kids to this stuff. I think it's important to be informed and watch the news but don't over-watch the news because there is such a thing as secondary trauma or vicarious trauma," said Lerman, a therapist with Southwest Psychotherapy Associates.

Lerman encourages parents to talk about the events with their children, on a level they can understand and make it a dialogue.

What happened in Florida is something Evans worries about everyday.

"Absolutely. Everyday but you have to train, train, train and try to reassure everybody, 'hey, we're here and we're going to do our best to protect everyone and keep everybody safe. That's job one for us. That's our main mission everyday."

Eyewitness News asked several local districts how they are reacting to the Florida school violence. Only HISD and Fort Bend ISD responded.

HISD Statement
The Houston Independent School District sends condolences to the entire Parkland, Florida community. The HISD Police Department has annual refresher training for its officers on how to respond to an active shooter event rapidly and effectively. In addition to this, in recent months, the HISDPD has released additional safety equipment to its officers as a tactical response to potential armed assailants on campus. Crisis counselors will be available to students upon schools' request.

Fort Bend ISD Statement
Fort Bend ISD is deeply saddened by the tragedy in Florida today. Safety is the top priority, and we are always working to provide a safe and supportive learning environment for our students and staff.

Each campus regularly practices safety drills to prepare for various scenarios, and incidents such as what happened today remind us all about the importance of preparation and continuous improvement. As more is learned about what led up to the incident, we expect conversations to continue - nationally and locally - so that we can do everything possible to protect our students and staff.
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