Teachers across Connecticut and the nation have offered condolences and rallied behind their peers, the students and their families following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

"We are deeply saddened by the tragic events that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School," said Melodie Peters, president of the Connecticut Federation of Teachers.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire community in the wake of this terrible tragedy," she said. "We will be working closely to help the students, teachers, administrators and their families in Newtown as they recover from this tragedy.

"We credit the teachers, staff and administrators for reacting immediately to protect the children," Ms. Peters said. "Our thanks go out to all of their first-responders for their effort to ensure the safety of all the students and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School."

The federation is coordinating grief counseling and support services with the Newtown Federation of Teachers, Local 1727; and the Newtown Federation of Custodians, Local 3924; the Newtown Federation of Education Personnel, Local 3785; along with the state, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the Connecticut Education Association.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, also offered thoughts on the tragedy.

"The entire AFT community is shaken to its core by this massacre of young children and the educators and school employees who care for and nurture them," she said. "We grieve for them all, and our prayers are with the Sandy Hook Elementary School community and all of Newtown, as well as the AFT nurses caring for victims at Danbury Hospital following this heinous act."

Ms. Weingarten said the federation has pledged to do everything it can to provide support and comfort to the students, teachers, administrators, their families and everyone in the community.

"Our thanks go out to all of the first-responders for their efforts to ensure the safety of all the students and staff," she said. "In this horrible moment, there were also extraordinary acts of courage by school staff to lock down the school and protect children.

"We'll never be able to prevent every senseless act of violence, but our children, educators and school employees go to school believing it is a safe sanctuary," Ms. Weingarten said. "We've been through this too many times. Everything we can do, we must do, including a renewed focus on gun control and preventing gun violence."