Supt.: All Springfield Swim Classes Suspended
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — The leader of Springfield’s schools says that all swimming classes are being suspended in light of last week’s apparent drowning at Kiley Middle School.
In a statement released Friday, Springfield School Superintendent Dan Warwick says that while “people both inside and outside of our organization want answers,” he wants to ensure the process is “beyond reproach” and notes that it’s “precisely why I am unable to answer many questions that have been posed to me at this juncture.”
“…You have my word that I will personally share the findings and courses of actions that result with our entire community once they are determined,” the Superintendent states.
Warwick adds that the city’s Health and Human Services Department worked with the state to conduct an inspection of Kiley’s pool and will certainly “support those measures” once the state’s report is complete.
The district, Warwick notes, has consulted with the state to “verify that we were operating within their prescribed guidelines for swimming curriculum and learned that we were.”
“Nonetheless, I have made the decision to suspend all swimming classes throughout the district because I expect and understand that there may be a high level of angst and anxiety around the program at this point,” Warwick says.
Crisis counseling will be available all next week on a 24-hour basis as classes resume after the February vacation.
Below is the full statement from Superintendent Warwick:
“Sadly, today marks one week since the unspeakable tragedy occurred where we lost one of our students. As a school district, we are doing all that we can in the aftermath of such a tragedy. We have reached out to the family. We have made counseling available. We have suspended all pool-related activities at all of our schools for the time being. And we have begun reviewing the events leading up to this tragedy with the purpose of conducting a full review to determine exactly what occurred.”
“Understandably, there has been an avalanche of questions and concerns. People both inside and outside of our organization want answers. They are desperate to understand what happened, how it happened, why it happened and what will happen next.”
“As superintendent, I assure you I am just as desperate to learn the answers to those questions and based on those answers to make thoughtful determinations about what must occur next. I promise that those decisions will be made with one thing and one thing only in mind – what is best for all of our students in moving forward.”
“The fact of this matter is that this process will require time. We need time to fully investigate, making sure that every aspect is covered and that we can be confident in our process once it is complete.”
“We have worked closely with police officials as they conducted their investigation. It has been reported that the police department has turned their investigation over to the Office of the District Attorney and we fully support and respect that measure.”
“We have also been in contact with the Springfield Department of Health and Human Services, which worked with the state department this week to conduct an inspection of the pool at Kiley. I certainly anticipate the state’s findings and, again, support those measures.”
“We consulted the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to verify that we were operating within their prescribed guidelines for swimming curriculums and learned that we were. Nonetheless, I have made the decision to suspend all swimming classes throughout the district because I expect and understand that there may be a high level of angst and anxiety around the program at this point.”
“As Superintendent, it is my intent to make sure this investigative process is beyond reproach. That is precisely the reason why I am unable to answer many questions that have been posed to me at this juncture. Jeopardizing the integrity of this process is simply a risk that I am not willing to take. So for now, I will continue to keep the details of our investigation and the personnel matters that lie therein confidential. However, you have my word that I will personally share the findings and courses of actions that result with our entire community once they are determined.”
“Next week will be a difficult one at Kiley. We have communicated with the school already, assuring them that it will be outfitted with grief counselors for both students and staff. It is important for us to take care of the hurting adults in the school so that they can be better prepared to take care of the kids. We will have counselors available early in the morning to meet with staff. During that morning meeting, staff will be provided information, teacher-to-student talking points, protocols and practices that they can utilize to bring a sense of comfort, normalcy and warmth to the students. Professional grief counselors will be stationed in the school all day and during the week.”
“Last Saturday, we opened the school for several hours and a good number of staff and some students took advantage of the opportunity to seek solace and comfort in one another and to receive professional grief counseling. We also made arrangements for Springfield Public Schools staff to have 24-hour crisis counseling available throughout this week.”
“As I stated in the opening of my remarks, it has been one week since tragedy struck our school district. Words cannot express our deep sorrow. I ask that you join me in continuing to pray for the family of our lost student, his friends, teachers and all who have been touched by his life.”