After the tragic shootings that occurred in Newton, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary, parents across the country have become concerned about their children’s safety and measures their districts are taking to protect them. The parents whose children attend JCISD are no different.
In response to the tragedy, the JCISD administration sent a letter to parents assuring them that student safety is the district’s top priority and that emergency procedures are in place on each of the district’s three campuses.
Currently, the elementary playground is surrounded by fencing and security cameras have been installed inside school buildings as well as on buses. Staff is also required to wear name badges.
Evacuation drills are routinely practiced. Last month, the district practiced an evacuation drill in which county and city emergency personnel participated. The drill went smoothly and the district is confident that the evacuation plan that is in place will enable students and staff to evacuate a building safely and quickly in case of an emergency.
Also, limited building access and visitor check-in procedures are an added safety precaution. These may be inconvenient for parents, but they are designed to limit access to the schools by strangers. Further, since the tragedy, the district has reviewed and modified existing procedures and has evaluated all building entrances.
The administration is considering limiting access points into school buildings, ordering an ID badge maker, adding more security cameras, updating the phone system and hiring a third party to do a safety audit of each campus. Starting January 7th, 2013, the front doors of the elementary school will be locked once the school day begins. Visitors will be required to ring a bell in order to gain entrance into the building.
The superintendent has also conversed with law enforcement and other school administrators about adding a school resource officer. However, the possibility of allowing staff (teachers, counselors, etc.) to carry concealed weapons into school buildings will not be permitted. Further, a meeting is scheduled for the beginning of January between county education administrators and first responders regarding school safety and JCISD officials will attend.
Mr. Shanley, the district’s Superintendent, says his goal is to “create a culture for students, parents and teachers that leads to a safe environment.” His wish is to have a community that “grows by being supportive, appreciative and cooperative” and not be hindered by “negative thoughts fed by fear, pettiness, and rumor and spread through social media.”
The website www.NCTSN.org provides helpful talking points parents may find useful when discussing tragedies such as the one in Connecticut with their children.