Private day schools follow county’s safety procedure

Private day schools in Northern Virginia are keeping the children inside for activities — adhering to the procedures school divisions are taking — while authorities search for the person responsible for the sniper shootings in the Washington, D.C., area.

Outdoor activities have all been moved indoors in all of the locations at Minnieland Private Day Schools, Children of America Educational Childcare Centers and Kindercare Learning Centers.

Local school divisions have been taking safety precautions by keeping students indoors for nearly two weeks, since Oct. 3, the day after the first sniper shootings in Montgomery County, Md.

Parents of children at Minnieland are supporting the school division’s precautions, said Gina Dabney, spokeswoman for Minnieland Private Day Schools. Minnieland has about 40 locations in Virginia, with about 17 of those locations in Northern Virginia.

“What parents want is to follow what the school system is doing,” Dabney said.

Local private day schools are following the same procedure as the schools in Prince William, Stafford, Fauquier and Fairfax counties and Manassas and Manassas Park — which is keeping students indoors.

“We’re watching what the schools are doing and we’re responsive to our parents as well,” Dabney said.

The events are not being discussed among the children, due to their young age, Dabney said.

“The children seem to be doing very well with the whole thing,” Dabney said. “The teachers don’t mention it.”

The three private day schools are trying to maintain a normal day’s schedule as much as possible.

“That sense of normalcy keeps children feeling safe,” Dabney said.

Procedures being taken at Kindercare are similar to the precautions taken following the Sept. 11 attacks, said Jill Eilande, Kindercare spokeswoman.

If a child brings up the events in Children of America centers, “we don’t antagonize the situation,” said Thad Pryor, president and CEO of four Children of America Educational Childcare Centers in the Northern Virginia area.

Whether the children are in a public school or at a private day center, the children’s play or athletic activities will remain indoors while officials assess safety procedures on a daily basis.

Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park school divisions will continue to keep students indoors today. All field trips are also canceled.

Manassas Park schools have maintained the same procedures, “Code Yellow,” since the first sniper shooting, said Thomas DeBolt, Manassas Park Schools superintendent.

Homecoming activities have been postponed from this week to Nov. 6-9. The varsity football game scheduled at Manassas Park High School on Friday evening is “tentatively rescheduled” for Saturday at noon in Clark County, DeBolt said.

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