Two local school districts are trying to calm the fears of parents and students by explaining how safe its buildings and staff are when it comes to thwarting any incidents.
The move comes three days after a mass school shooting left 26 people, including 20 children, dead at a Connecticut elementary school.
Heritage High School in Saginaw Township sent the letter home with students Monday. WNEM.com has posted it in its entirety below:
In regard to the horrific tragedy in the Connecticut school on Friday, I would like to offer some information that might be reassuring for you as a parent.
We at Heritage High School, in conjunction with all Saginaw Township Community Schools, have been very proactive in making our school as safe and secure as possible. For over a decade, we have been working with Tom Mynsberge, President at Critical Incident Management, Inc., and with his guidance we have created a Critical Incident Plan for emergency situations. Tom is a retired Michigan State Policeman, and he is an expert on school safety. Procedures that are outlined in our plan refer to such crises as external and internal attacks, bomb threats, fire, hazardous materials, and explosions. All school staff has been trained on safety codes and procedures, and has received regular updates on how to handle a crisis situation.
Heritage High School has all outside doors locked during the school day. Visitors must enter through one of two entrances and there is a sign in procedure in place. We have 5 security officers on site during the day, one works the parking areas and there are 4 inside with specific duties assigned. The Saginaw Township Police also work in close collaboration with us and we have a liaison police officer that is assigned to our building.
All Heritage High School staff members have received instructions on how to best meet the needs of our students in regard to their reaction to the tragedy in Connecticut. We will continue to assure our students their safety at school. If they have specific questions, we will suggest they discuss them with you, and we will refrain from talking about any details of the Connecticut situation.
I am sure that you share our shock and grief over the human loss in the Connecticut crisis. All of the victims and their families are in our thoughts and prayers. While we can never predict what the future might bring, and while we realize that we are all vulnerable in life, we can only do our best in being proactive in protecting our most precious resource - our children.
Michael Newman, Principal
Heritage High School
Linden Community Schools also issued a letter stating that their school safety plan and security measures were in place:
By now you are all aware of the tragedy in Connecticut. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims' families and their entire community. As a parent, you may have concerns regarding what steps our school district is taking to make sure that your child is safe while he/she is at school. Please be assured that Linden Community Schools has a comprehensive School Safety Plan in place.
Our school emergency plans are taken seriously and are reviewed frequently. We work at the administrative level with both local police/fire departments (Argentine Township and the City of Linden), with county-level support through the GISD and Sheriff Robert Pickell's department, and with a regional expert (and retired Michigan State Police Tactical Specialist/Senior Sergeant) Tom Mynsberge, President of Critical Incident Management. On March 19th, district administration met with their counterparts from Lake Fenton Community Schools and Fenton Area Public Schools, as well as all of our local fire department and police department representatives and reviewed the most current recommendations in school safety planning from Critical Incident Management. On November 20th and 21st, sheriff deputy Ryan Ulshafer toured the district to review and walk through the emergency plans for each building. This is part of a new initiative from the Genesee County Sheriff's Department, which plans to assist schools and emergency responders throughout the county with school safety planning.
In all that we do, safety is our number one priority. Each building regularly practices emergency drills including lock downs and lock outs, as well as fire, tornado, and evacuation drills. We are very fortunate to have routine communication and a great working relationship with our local law enforcement agencies and fire departments on topics directly related to school safety. We normally have an excellent police presence in our district and this week we will have an additional presence throughout the district. While I am hopeful that I have reassured you of your child's safety while in school by sharing some of our district safety protocols, keep in mind that we do not publicly discuss details of our safety plans to maintain the integrity of the plans.
Our routine mode for exterior-door security outlines that each school building will use one main point of entry during normal school hours. Doors for student entry in the mornings from buses, parent drop off, or student parking are secured once the day begins. I have asked each building to lock doors for deliveries or recess that are often left unlocked to facilitate better flow. We will remain under this tighter mode of security for the remainder of the week on the advice of Critical Incident Management's Tom Mynsberge.
Obviously, this topic is at the forefront of many conversations, including student conversations. Often times it is difficult to know what to say to children as they ask questions about a tragedy. The National Association of School Psychologists has a two-page document titled "Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers." This morning we shared it with teachers and bus drivers across the district and posted it to our website on the main page under "Announcements." If your child has questions, please read through the tips; they provide an excellent foundation for appropriate conversations about violence. Also, please know that every day we have school social workers and/or counselors available to help students who are having difficulty.
As parents, as students, as staff...as a community we are all deeply troubled by these events. I think one of the most effective things we can do is to build strong relationships across our community. Not only relationships between schools, law enforcement, and other critically important partners, but also between all of us as neighbors, community members, service organizations, and adults dedicated to the success of children.
If you have immediate needs or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to the staff at your child's school. We are blessed with a highly trained and loving staff that I truly believe are dedicated to raising our students.
Copyright 2012 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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