Good Afternoon Parents-
The shootings in Parkland have caused us all to reflect on all sorts of issues but none more pressing than making sure our schools are safe.
I have heard from so many of you (literally hundreds) with everything from thanks for doing what we can to criticism that we are not doing enough. There are many misconceptions that have come through and I would like to clarify a few things.
“You are the only school that hasn’t had a commemoration regarding the Parkland shootings.”
In fact, MANY schools have not done anything formal in terms of an event such as a walkout or organized activity. There are many that have and some have been on the news. Of these, many have been chaotic and unorganized, while a very select few were beautifully planned and orchestrated so as to have true meaning. The day after the shootings, there were immediately posts on social media telling everyone to walk out of school at a certain time. I refuse to accept that this is the appropriate way for our 11, 12, and 13 year olds to express themselves and in talking to many students, I found a common thread in their remarks that pretty much said “we want to walk out because everyone else is”.
The thought of my 1300 students walking out the gate onto LeChalet and then to Jog Road is unthinkable to me. The safety aspect alone is enough to make me cringe. So, I made a concerted effort that day to send a clear message to my students that there would be no walkout at Christa, BUT THAT INSTEAD, we would have an organized and meaningful event in the near future.
I have met with our Student Council and we have agreed that we will do something on March 14, the one month anniversary of the shooting, as this will be a day that will be used by many organizations and schools across the country as a day to have a commemorative event. The Student Council came up with ideas of what this will look like at our school and details will be forthcoming. Any events will be strictly to commemorate the lost lives and the tragedy of the situation. There will be NO political messages or comments on public policies.
We have already completed 2 activities this week to assist our students in expressing their feelings. We participated in a nationwide activity where every student was given a pink paper heart on which to write a special message to the students at Douglas H.S. Those hearts are being collected by an organization and will be organized and delivered to the school. We also have large banners and posters that we asked students to sign as they entered school yesterday and today. Those banners will be delivered to the high school as well.
“The students at school have no idea what to do in the case of a Code Red situation.”
As for Code Red, we have shown videos to our students numerous times that go over the Code Red procedures. I have spoken to the student body via the morning announcements about what to do in a Code Red, including what to do if you are not near a classroom. We have conducted an actual Code Red Drill earlier this year. Every classroom has a Code Red poster listing the procedures and teachers have been asked to review those several times. To see the video that we created and have shown to students, click here:
I have also posted Code Red info on our webpage. It has been there all year, but today I moved it up to the #1 spot under “News”.
Based on this concern, I asked about 100 random students yesterday and today what they would do in the event of a Code Red and EVERY student knew what to do.
“There are too many areas of concern on the CMMS campus regarding security.”
We have taken immediate actions to address this, with more to come.
We have re-trained our office staff in using secure procedures when letting people in the front security gate. If we do not recognize the person, they will be asked to state their business and produce an I.D. If they are a parent, we will look up the student on our system and make sure the person at the gate is who they say they are.
Effective today, we have locked our bus loop parking lot and it will be locked during most of the school day. It will have to open at 3:10 so that the buses can get in for dismissal. But, this one action reduces a big part of our exposure on LeChalet. We are also looking at how we can reconfigure our main parking lot to limit it to one point of entrance and exit instead of the 2 that we currently have.
We have worked with our School Resource Office and Police Aide to change the way we patrol the campus and you should notice a more “up front” presence of Mr. Whitfield, our Police Aide.
We currently have 5 classrooms that are inside buildings that do not have locking doors. These are emergency egress doors and are required by Fire and Safety Codes. These doors do not have locks in the event that the main hallway door is blocked, students would still have a way to escape that particular hallway. We are working on looking at some new solutions that have come forward that allow for any door to be blocked from the inside in the event of a Code Red. Please know that in the meantime, the teachers in these rooms have previously been trained to immediately take their classes to a room next door in the event of an emergency.
I hope this helps you to better understand what I am thinking in terms of making CMMS a safer and more secure school for us all. In addition, District staff will be brainstorming and coming up with things we can do as well.
Thanks for listening!
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