Tomorrow morning will mark exactly one week since the Sandy Hook school massacre in Connecticut. Many will pause to remember, in West Seattle as well as elsewhere – as noted here last night, a moment of silence is requested at 9:30 am Friday, and all are invited to the 5 pm Saturday vigil on Alki. Today, Seattle Public Schools‘ Superintendent José Banda has just shared another update on campus security:
As we head into winter break, I know many of us are still reflecting on the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut and how we can work together to ensure our schools are a safe place for our students.
I want to take a moment to let you know how important safety is at Seattle Public Schools, what steps we’ve taken since last Friday and what we plan to do in the future to protect our students.
We take the safety of our students very seriously. Once a month, each school conducts at least one safety-related drill. Every school has a safety plan that outlines procedures for prevention, mitigation, response and recovery in the event of a crisis. We have a team of security specialists divided by region who are in schools and able to respond quickly in times of a crisis.
After hearing of the news last Friday, we asked our principals to be extra vigilant in their schools.
This week our schools have continued this vigilance, monitoring entrances, hallways and any visitors to our buildings. Additionally, we are continuing to work with the Seattle Police Department. Officers provided extra support to our schools and coordinated additional patrols in our school zones this past week. We are grateful for the ongoing partnership.
In the New Year, we will continue our increased focus on school safety. In the weeks to come, our security team will meet with principals to review safety plans and ensure each building is equipped to handle potential incidents.
While we already have a strong partnership with the Seattle Police Department, we are jointly forming a working group to look at ways to improve our school safety. As more information becomes available from Connecticut and as our nation continues to have discussions about school safety, this working group will review recommendations from the Department of Education and law enforcement. Together, we will work on sustainable plans for implementing improved safety measures across the District.
I know many of you are asking how you can best help. If you have suggestions or ideas specifically for your school, please contact your principal. If you have a suggestion to improve the safety across the District, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our hearts continue to mourn for the students and staff in Newtown and for the loss of innocence so many of our young children across the nation have suffered. Seattle Public Schools staff will work hard in the New Year to continue making safety our top concern.
I hope you all are able to spend time with loved ones over the next two weeks. Although my children are grown, I am looking forward to giving them an extra hug when I see them during the winter break.
In West Seattle, Chief Sealth announced a “closed campus” for this week, and WSHS reiterated its policy for locked doors around most of the campus.