District Addresses Preparedness

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Friday January 04, 2013

Given the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Conn., school safety has been on the minds of parents and community members alike. Superintendent David Young took a moment in the school board meeting Wednesday night to discuss measures the SB school district has in place to manage and prepare for crises.

“For at least fifteen years, this district has been diligent about planning for the future,” Young said. “As a district leader, I feel we have been appropriately prepared.”

Assistant Superintendent Winton Goodrich explained that the SBSD crisis management model is based on the state model and FEMA practices. Each classroom has a packet with instructions for teachers should a crisis occur. Clear the halls, secure school (window shades down, doors locked), emergency drills (which occur monthly), and relocation (there are various secondary locations for every school).

Additional measures include: each phone in the schools can access the intercom; “go buckets” in every classroom, which contain custom-designed raincoats which will give individuals some protection from the elements should they need to vacate quickly; and external cameras on every building, which the school can review with permission should they have just cause. 

SBSD has 109 individuals on their crisis team, in addition to a school public safety committee. The state-wide crisis management model focuses on the communication component and having a consistent message. Goodrich explained that the district will be utilizing social media more to communicate quickly and succinctly with parents.
On Monday 12/17, the school district decided to implement restricted access. Young made it clear that this was not a lock down. He said he is not sure what the status will be after the winter break, but imagines that the restricted access will continue at least for a couple of days upon return. 

On Monday morning, Young met with teachers and staff to do a check-in. “It’s important, as a community, to be able to talk to each other about these things. The outcomes of asking, ‘how are you?’ are conversations.” In terms of safety, Young and Goodrich agreed that they have done a lot of good things, but they are also updating and evaluating constantly in order to be as prepared as possible.

The conversation on crisis management will continue at the next January board meeting.

SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent