Saturday, December 22, 2012

School Safety

Hard to believe it's been a week. Although, for 20 parents in Newtown, Connecticut, I'm sure time has stood still.

I don't have anything profound to add to the conversation. I've read everything I can (but watched very little video coverage) trying to make sense of what happened. I don't have the answers. I do believe it was an act of pure evil, and no rational, normal human being can truly say what, if anything, would have deterred this from happening.
In the aftermath of a tragedy, it's expected that the government will do something about it. That's the kind of society we've become. Instead of asking ourselves how we might prevent this in the future and talking about what's wrong with us as a society, we look to the federal government. About that I will just say, you can't legislate evil.

The world is full of evil and the proof is every day on the news. Despite this, I make a concious decision five days a week to send my five-year-old son into the world. I entrust his teachers and bus drivers to keep him safe.

I was surprised when my son's elementary school didn't offer any communication regarding the event. Not only did I want some reassurance about security, I wondered if the event was discussed in the classrooms. Out of curiousity, I emailed our principal and she graciously provided this response:
I appreciate your email. As far as the tragedy goes, yesterday I instructed the staff to not discuss the issue with the students as a whole. I recognize that there are many parents who shielded this information from their children while others informed totally. In respect for family differences, the staff was instructed to not discuss the issue.

At the same time, we recognized that some students may want or need to discuss the tragedy. These students would be directed to our counselor. (We did not have any needing this.) Teachers were asked to speak privately and listen to any student. My staff informed me there were very few comments/questions and classes were held as normal.

 [Our school] is required to have a crisis plan in place and have it submitted to the state. We have done so and copies are given to staff members.

As far as drills, [our school] does follow the requirements to hold drills. We hold monthly fire drills, we hold tornado drills from March to June, and we do one crisis/lock down drill. We had our lock down drill in November. We also hold one fall tornado drill for students to practice. This drill requires notification to the police department. The  [township]police were here for our drill. Every December and June I am required to submit our drill record to the state fire marshal.

Our doors are always locked, except for the front outer door. Everyone must enter through the front office and sign in. We do have the ability to put the building into a lock down, locking all doors at once, if we needed. We also are able to contact the security system for emergencies quickly.

Tomorrow all administrators will be discussing our plan to see where we are and if any changes/adjustments are needed. I have also asked teachers to give me a list of any questions or concerns they feel need to be addressed regarding our crisis plan.

I hope I have answered your questions and concerns. If not, please feel to give me a call at xxx-xxxx.

  One of our friends attends a different elementary school and he brought home the letter pictured here.

I believe my son is too young to discuss the school shooting, in fact, I think he's oblivious and I plan to keep it that way. 

I hope your family will find peace this holiday season. Now is not the time to forget what Christmas is about.