Violence, unfortunately, can occur anywhere including in our schools. With the wake of recent school shootings, many parents, students, and community members are increasingly concerned about the safety in our schools.
For the school district, student safety remains our number one priority. We encourage learning institutions to stay prepared to respond to protect students and faculty members at all times.
Schools should remain safe havens and nurturing environments for students and members of staff.
To champion this the district has undertaken numerous safety precautions that will ensure our learning institutions remain safe and free to foster learning.
The document below outlines the steps we’ve taken to ensure institutions remain safe. They fall under three criteria comprising of Awareness, Balance, and Control…
It’s paramount that schools remain vigilant against the threat of violence on campus. They should take the appropriate measures to warrant students’ safety.
Since the horrible incident that occurred in 1999 (refer to the Columbine school shooting) school districts across the country have continuously integrated both school safety and emergency response plans in the aim of reducing the school-based shootings.
The steps implemented have, in essence, helped avert what could have been a multitude of tragedies.
To keep up with the times and heightened levels of violence, district and county offices of education work with schools to review and update safety and emergency plans that help in meeting current needs.
Presently, schools in the districts are tasked with conducting periodic safety drills, as well as lockdown drills that come in handy should they suffer an outside threat. Some of the measures we ask schools to observe include:
- Having teachers keep their classroom doors closed and locked whenever they’re in session.
- Schools should consider having one single entry point which will serve as the entry and exit point for staff, students and visitors alike.
- The entrance points should remain locked when school is in session and should be equipped with control devices that mandate visitors to show their identification before they’re allowed to come onto the campus.
Schools must demand that visitors produce their identification, such as their driving licenses before entering a building. Institutions should facilitate license scanning and storage.
All members of staff, substitutes, and visitors should wear identification badges. For prospective employees, the school should have their fingerprints taken, and thorough background checks conducted.
The school district camera system should be connected with schools making it easy for building administrators to view video surveillance and remain alert should anything fishy crop up.
Recommendations are to have the district work carefully with the police department, who should routinely visit school grounds, canvassing the area guaranteeing student safety.
School Resource Officers should be hired and present on campus at all times. A uniformed police officer can also be requested as needed during the school day and during afterschool activities, such as athletic events.
Members of staff and students should be spoken to and encouraged to say something when they see something suspicious. They should be requested to notify the relevant authority should they feel that a particular individual may pose a threat.
The district continuously works with schools to ensure that students, parents and staff are in the know of the safety and emergency response plans. We request them to avail the same on their official websites.
We also encourage learning institutions to train both staff and students about warning signs and safety protocols. By heightening awareness, the school community is better positioned to deal with, or minimize possible threats effectively.
To effectively roll out school safety measures, the district encourages learning institutions to take up a balanced approach.
We know that using a combined number of strategies is more effective as opposed to resulting in one or two extreme solutions. The safety measures approach should factor in human connection initiatives including:
- Parental involvement
- Support networks
- Fostering information sharing
- Peer relationship building and counseling
Such measures will ensure that learners feel more connected to their teacher, their peers, and the school in general. The approach will yield fruits such as an enhanced ability to recognize and report any security concern.
Moreover, institutions should find a balance between maintaining an open learning space and securing schooling facilities.
School leaders and adults in various positions should take up the role of reminding students, parents, staff, and the public in general that their institutions are a haven for students.
To be effective, schools should be in control of the learning environment. Learning institutions in the entire country have prioritized safety, and their school districts continue to implement safety measures.
Safety efforts need to account for the school’s features as well as the surrounding community. As mentioned before, to have better control safety officers should be hired, schools should come up with an active visitor policy as well as limit entry points.
Emergency response drills should be incorporated into the safety measures and conducted routinely.
District superintendents should also meet regularly with school heads, departmental heads, and the police department to discuss more modern steps that should be introduced to make the learning environment safer.
Some of the additional safety measures that should be introduced include:
- Rearming the institution’s external door alarms after dismissal
- Locating blind spots and installing extra security cameras in and out of the buildings
- Maintaining a single point of entry before-during-after school programs and activities
Some of the safety measures we should prioritize in our learning institutions are:
- Marking floors using red tape to make it easier for students to know where to go during lockdowns
- Increasing police presence in the school grounds
- Adding alarms to external doors
- Introducing two-way walkie talkies for members of faculty and training them how to use them properly in emergency situations
- Installing doors that come with efficient locking systems that adhere to the fire code
- Conducting active shooter drills for members of faculty and staff supervised by the police department
As the district superintendent of schools, I will see to it that the school district makes every attempt in increasing security measures. We are committed to keeping schools, students, faculty and staff members safe.
The district and I will stay in constant communication with students, the schools, employees, parents, and the community as we continue taking the relevant measures to secure our schools.
Robin Hopper Superintendent