CHAMPAIGN-URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Urbana students are in their final week of the year, just like the students at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas were when 19 children and two teachers were shot and killed Tuesday.

Over 1,000 miles away in central Illinois parents dropped their kids off at school Wednesday morning during what is generally one of the most anticipated weeks of the year. The final days of the school year are typically filled with sunshine daydreams and preparing for summer vacation.

Instead, Johannes Frazier dropped his 2nd and 4th graders off at the Leal Elementary School doorstep in Urbana next to a flag at half-staff.

“It made me just kind of go through the gamut of what the school does to protect its students,” he said.

Frazier was still processing yet another mass shooting at a U.S. school as he prepared to broach the topic with his children. He knew the tough conversation is inevitable.

“It soaks into our thinking and then how do we share that with our kids is another thing,” he explained.

Terri Medwed — a school counselor of nearly 20 years before opening her current office Clarity Counseling Services in Champaign — said parents should “first go ahead and process the information yourself.”

She said the depth of the conversation to follow depends on the age of the child.

“I don’t want to scare them too much into thinking that this is something that just happens regularly, although it kind of does, and that it’s a threat to their school. That there are just people randomly walking around with a gun, hunting down kids, ” Frazier expressed.

“It’s important to be very calm and transparent, and be honest,” Medwed replied when asked how much is appropriate to share with grade-school-age children.

“It’s okay to share your feelings about disbelief and horror and not necessarily have an explanation.”

Medwed suggested taking the opportunity to remind kids why parents do things like locking the door at night and making sure a trustworthy adult is always present, “reassuring them that they are safe.”

She said it’s just as important that parents always ask specific questions about their kids’ days and know of a teacher or another adult at school that their child could turn to if something feels off. That adult should also be a resource for kids to report to when they notice other students who are being bullied or desperately need an intervention, Medwed said, something that is becoming ever apparent about the alleged gunman — 18-year-old Salvador Ramos — in the Uvalde school shooting.

“I do think we have our work cut out for ourselves to really try and make sure our schools are safe. And unfortunately, right now, we just can’t say that,” Medwed concluded.

The counselor said it’s important to break the ice and address mass shootings with children even if they don’t bring it up to their parent(s) directly. She requested that adults sit and listen, and answer their questions, no matter how many or how long after the fact they continue to ask more.

For parents of high school students growing up in a climate where proposed solutions for reducing mass shootings have become politically polarized, Medwed requests that parents ask children for their thoughts on gun laws and school security policies rather than inserting their own opinions.