Hawaii school officials reviewed security measures as some parents reportedly took their children out of class Friday in the wake of news of the shooting at a Connecticut school that left 28 people dead.
U.S. and Hawaii flags will fly at half-staff until sunset Tuesday at the behest of President Barack Obama and Gov. Neil Abercrombie.
"With the president, our hearts are heavy today over the loss of so many innocent lives in Connecticut," Abercrombie said in a news release Friday. "Our thoughts are with the families of the victims and the people of Connecticut in this time of tragedy. It is horrific that anyone would take away so many young lives. Schools should always be a safe and nurturing place for our children and educators."
Obama ordered that the U.S. flag be flown at half-staff at the White House, at all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, on all naval vessels and at U.S. government buildings around the world.
Back in Hawaii, the state Department of Education Safety, Security and Emergency Preparedness Branch met with Honolulu Police Department officials to review security procedures for all public schools statewide, a DOE news release said Friday.
"All of Hawaii's public schools have emergency procedures in place, and today our teams revisited those procedures with a heightened awareness," said Hawaii state schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. "While this tragedy is incomprehensible, all of our schools have counseling services available for students, parents and teachers who may need them."
Although this weekend marks the start of the winter break for Hawaii's public schools, parents and/or students in need of counseling services may contact their school or the DOE for assistance at (808) 586-3232.
School officials also offered website links for addressing the crisis with children:
* National Education Association "School Crisis Guide," crisisguide.neahin.org/crisisguide/after/mentalhealth.html.
* American Psychological Association, www.apa.org/topics/violence/school-shooting.aspx.
Maui County spokesman Rod Antone said that two county workers were so shook up by the shootings that left 20 students dead that they pulled their children out of school and dropped them off with relatives.
"Our hearts go out to the families touched by the tragedy in Connecticut," Mayor Alan Arakawa wrote on his Facebook page. "Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers."
In another show of sympathy for the victims of the shooting, Kahu Alalani Hill offered prayers and flowers into the ocean off Kalepolepo Beach Park in Kihei.
As the flowers floated out, they formed "a perfect triangle," she said in an email to The Maui News.