Monday, February 26, 2018

School Safety

Wayland Union Schools Staff and Families:

We are all shocked and dismayed by another horrific act of a school shooting on 2/14/18 in Florida.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims and their entire community.  It is another sad day for everyone.

Unfortunately, school shootings, school violence, and inappropriate behaviors are in the news too frequently. The question of why these senseless acts of violence continue to occur should be reviewed and discussed at all levels of our society.  However, it is just as important how we locally support, inform, and respond to these situations that is a key to providing safe schools.  We need to grow the dialogue with our families, students, schools, and communities, to continue to work together to prevent such incidents from occurring.

Prevention
With the recent school attack in Florida, we want to assure parents, students, and families we are working daily to be very proactive in protecting our students, staff, and visitors.

Our students and parents have received training in reporting potential acts of violence or information that students may be hurting in some fashion, either physically or emotionally.  Life is full of stress and anxiety and it is not a bad thing to need or accept help.  It is sad not to address the needs of yourself or others. 

Our students have been repeatedly taught through a program brought into our schools annually about the OK2SAY program – an anonymous means to report concerns or potential threats to school authorities.  Our district website also offers a similar means to communicate concerns.  Students these days are on many social media sites and are often the first to be aware of issues, threats, or concerns.  If anyone sees or hears something, please report something!  Communication is a key to everyone’s safety.

Safeguards 
Our schools have enacted safety measures to secure the buildings and developed systems to prevent unauthorized entries. All exterior doors, except the primary office entrance doors, are kept closed and locked at all times.  All of our schools have secured entrances through the main office.  Office doors have electronic locks that require individuals to be allowed in by office staff.  Everyone entering the building must be identified with a purpose before they are allowed access to our students.

Our school district has a full-time and experienced Security Officer, has a cooperative relationship with city, county, and area law enforcement, and employs the services of a Security Consultant.  Our entire school staff, including support and transportation staff, have been trained by the Critical Incident Management (CIM) Team.  CIM consists of experienced police officers with extensive SWAT experience and realistic training.  School staff are trained in violence reactions drills, securing against threats, bomb threats, and hazardous materials reactions.  Our administrative team has also completed FEMA’s Incident Command Training and we are in the process of updating our Critical Incident and Emergency / Crisis Procedures manuals.

The CIM team works diligently with responders, including police, FBI, fire and medical personnel. We continue to work with mutual aid among schools with the CIM training on a regional basis to more effectively and professionally mitigate these incidents.  We use the CIM team to maintain constant update and training to maintain our vigilance. We are a part of the most proactive and professional response team in the nation.  

Security Measures
Our district is also being proactive in providing secure school buildings and a safe campus environment.  We have had security cameras in place for many years and will continue to add security cameras to our schools (both interior and exterior), playgrounds, and buses in the weeks ahead.  This past year, we received nearly a $100,000 security and safety grant from the MI State Police to install additional cameras, enhance our secure entrances, apply security window film, and purchase additional two-way radios to enhance security at all schools.  Our recently passed bond issue will also include enhanced security features for everyone’s safety.

We have a Board of Education Security Committee that has been recently formed and already had a meeting scheduled for February 26.  Recently, the administration and Board of Education reviewed a presentation by a security firm to provide additional district security and safety features.  We are currently reviewing that proposal.

Resources 
I have attached some possible resources for teachers or parents to use as needed when dealing with questions, concerns, or anxieties from students.

"Emergency Lesson Plans" for helping children cope with an emergent crisis. 
http://fg.ed.pacificu.edu/bailey/resources/papers/trauma/lessons.html

Teaching Tolerance Website
https://www.tolerance.org/

American Psychological Association: Talking with Kids About School Shootings for Parents
http://www.apa.org/topics/violence/school-shooting.aspx

Responding to Traumatic Events: Learn how to help children cope with trauma
https://childmind.org/topics/concerns/responding-to-traumatic-events/

Please know we take the safety of your children, our staff, and visitors very seriously.  It is our primary mission, even above educating our students.  We assure you that we are working daily to be proactive and vigilant in keeping our schools and facilities as safe as possible.  We are always open to your input and suggestions. 

Yours in Education,

Norman L. Taylor, Superintendent
taylorn@waylandunion.org