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After Texas shooting, Mass. schools and police departments vow support for students, teachers

Police walk near Robb Elementary School following Tuesday's shooting.Dario Lopez-Mills/Associated Press

Leaders of public schools and police departments across Massachusetts vowed Wednesday to support students and teachers in the aftermath of the mass shooting in the Uvalde, Texas, elementary school.

Boston Acting Police Commissioner Gregory Long said every school has officers assigned to the buildings in the morning and afternoon, monitoring for potential threats.

“It’s extremely unsettling for any parent of any child across the country to wake up this morning and wonder, is their child safe?” Long said at an event in Roxbury. “All I can say is, in terms of the Boston police department, we’re going to do everything we can to ensure the safety of the children.”

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Medfield police said they have increased their presence at all of the town’s schools. “It is our hope to help staff and families feel more comfortable and protected,” the department tweeted.

Boston Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius wrote in an e-mail to parents Tuesday night that the state’s largest public school system “will do everything within [its] power to answer their questions, console their fears, and allow space for any feelings your children may have.”

Grief counselors and social workers were assigned to the Boston schools to help children and staff deal with a “sense of unease and feeling unsafe” after the worst mass murder in a school since the Newtown, Conn., shootings nearly a decade ago.

At an event on Wednesday, Cassellius pledged that staff and school police would maintain vigilance to protect students in their last month of classes.

“Yesterday’s tragic events and loss of precious life illustrates the seriousness of the work ahead for all of us,” she said. “The safety and well-being of all of our students and staff are on all of our minds, not just this morning, but every single day and night. When it comes to our students, they deserve every ounce of our attention and our coordinated support. They deserve to come home safe and sound.”

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Cassellius said administrators and school safety specialists are reviewing safety plans and intruder drills after the Texas shooting, though the district has not introduced any new security measures. Last week, two students were arrested after bringing loaded guns to Charlestown High School, and in March a teacher and student were shot in the parking lot of TechBoston Academy after school.

Wellesley, Brookline, Milton, and Quincy school officials were among those echoing Cassellius and the concern that students and teachers will be struggling to comprehend the Texas massacre.

“A senseless tragedy such as this can cause feelings of frustration, anger, and fear, especially for the safety of our own children and staff members,” Quincy Superintendent Kevin Mulvey wrote. “There will be a regular police presence in and around our schools during the final weeks of school, including at upcoming scheduled school events.”

Wellesley schools Superintendent David Lussier added his voice to those around the nation calling for changes to bring an end to mass shootings in the United States, especially those taking place in schools.

Stoughton schools Superintendent Timothy R. Raab said his staff was already prepared to handle the difficult situation in classrooms Wednesday — because they have had to do it so many times before.

“It is impossibly sad to know that our staff already understands how to best support our school community when these events occur as a result of our past experiences,” he wrote. “Once again we hear of the horrific news of a senseless school tragedy. The loss of life that has transpired in our country, at the hands of a school intruder, is truly unfathomable.”

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Karen McDavitt, principal of Glover Elementary School in Milton, reassured parents in a letter sent to the community Wednesday that teachers, adjustment counselors, and administrators will be available to respond to students who need support or want to talk to someone.

“Our staff are skilled at supporting students in developmentally appropriate ways and we also recognize that families come with differing perspectives and comfort levels in terms of addressing situations like this,” McDavitt wrote. “Some may talk directly with their children and some may choose not to address it at all. We respect the wishes of each family and defer to you in terms of how you want to share and discuss yesterday’s tragedy with your children.”

In their communications, school officials summarized their current security measures, which include locked doors once classes start and identification badges required to be worn by visitors. Some communities have resource officers walking school hallways and also routinely conduct lockdown drills.




John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe. Adria Watson can be reached at adria.watson@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @adriarwatson. Ivy Scott can be reached at ivy.scott@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @itsivyscott.