TODAY’s Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager had an emotional conversation following a shooting at a private Christian school in Nashville.
On March 27, a shooter armed with two assault rifles and a handgun shot through the doors of The Covenant School and killed six victims, including three children.
The following day, Hoda and Jenna tearfully spoke about the fear parents experience when sending their children to school every day.
Hoda, who is a mom to 6-year-old Haley and 3-year-old Hope, began the conversation by acknowledging that the two TODAY co-hosts are journalists but she wanted “to take my journalism cap off and be a mother.”
She pointed out that the frequency of shootings in the United States can cause some people to become “desensitized” to the tragedies if they are not in their towns.
Jenna agreed and shared she knew of one of the 9-year-old students who was killed because she has a friend who lives in Nashville.
She recalled asking her husband, Henry Hager, about the shooting when he returned home from work.
“I had to whisper because I have a 9-year-old who was doing her homework. And the thought that any of us could send our children on the buses or walking or drop them off at carpool and not get to hug them again is just beyond,” Jenna said as she became emotional.
The author and mom of three then mentioned the school districts around the country that have been recently banning books.
“As a book lover, I just have to say — and my mom (former first lady Laura Bush) has said this as a librarian — we are worried about giving our kids Judy Blume and other books that are important to the history, to the fabric of our country,” Jenna said. “And we aren’t worried about sending our kids to schools where they’re not safe. I just don’t understand what has happened to a country that I know you love, that I love.”
Hoda said she also felt for all the parents who arrived at The Covenant School panicking, wondering if their child had been injured.
“We’ve all had the fear for a minute of losing sight and how you think that’s the last moment,” Hoda shared. “To imagine those parents lined up going into that school, thinking like, ‘Is my child going to run to me?’”
She revealed that she has a friend who lives in Nashville as well. Hoda said the friend saw mothers arrive at the school and start “banging on buses screaming their kids’ names.”
Jenna, who worked as a teacher 15 years ago, noted that now parents cannot protect their children “at the place they’re most safe.”
“We did not do drills,” she said, referring to the active shooter drills that many students and facility now participate in at schools across the country. “I was not scared."
Toward the end of their conversation, Jenna added, “Let’s not fail our kids.”
Officials have confirmed that in addition to the three children, the school’s headmaster, a substitute teacher and a school custodian were also killed in the Tennessee shooting.
Police said officers confronted and fatally shot the attacker, who was a former student of the school, about 14 minutes after the tragedy began.