In the wake of yesterday’s events at a school in Florida, Superintendent Bret Towne sent the following letter to district parents Thursday, Feb 15.
Dear Parents and Guardians,
I had difficulty falling asleep last night thinking about yesterday’s horrific shooting at a Florida high school. I imagine many of you experienced the same sleeplessness. This senseless act of violence, that has left a community shattered and countless lives forever changed, has caused Edmond Public Schools to evaluate and review further all safety and security procedures to make sure that we are exhaustive in our efforts to prevent a similar incident from happening in our district.
To that end, I wanted to take this opportunity to make you aware of safety initiatives and guidelines currently in place to protect students. Our school safety strategy includes, but is not limited to:
- Coordination and emergency planning with Edmond and Oklahoma City police, fire, and safety officials and the Oklahoma County Health Department
- Development of extensive “Crisis Plans” for each school, updated annually and including evacuation sites, shelter-in-place details and parent communication directives
- The employment of a designated school safety coordinator and creation of crisis management and intervention teams in all schools
- Secured entrances at schools
- Visitor identification badges, issued through SchoolSafeID
- A minimum of ten safety drills conducted during the school year, including lockdown and intruder drills
- Utilization of interior and exterior digital cameras to monitor and record video surveillance images 24/7
- Ongoing safety training for employees, including substitute teachers
- Staff members designated to assist special needs students in an emergency/crisis
- Emergency “Go” kits in every school ready in the event of an emergency
- Perimeter fencing where appropriate
As we review our safety and security practices to determine if more can be done, we would ask for your assistance in also reviewing your own emergency plans. By working together, we can do more to protect our students.
What Can Parents/Guardians Do
- Be sure that updated emergency contact information is on file in your child’s school. This is particularly important if you have had a change in phone numbers.
- Be sure the school has the current information about your caregiver.
- Listen to your children and take their concerns seriously. If they “see something,” have them “say something.” If they overhear or observe (whether at school, an after-school event, or on social media) a student or former student threatening harm to themselves or others, please immediately report that information to law enforcement or a trusted adult.
- Monitor your child’s social media activity and report anything suspicious. In some school shootings, the suspect’s social media accounts foreshadowed violent events.
- When you are in our schools or at school events, be alert for individuals who do not belong. Report that information immediately to the school office or an administrator.
- Instruct your child about how to reach you at all times.
- Be sure your child knows what to do and where to go if there is an emergency and no one is at home.
- Talk to your child about personal safety. Teach your child how to recognize danger signals.
We hope the following resources will be helpful as you address the sadness and fear that your child (ren) may be feeling following yesterday’s tragic shooting. This National Association of School Psychologists website provides tips on how to provide children with a sense of normalcy and security after high profile violent acts. https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-safety-and-crisis.
Lastly, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (http://www.nctsn.org/) provides additional resources and tips that you may find helpful.
School counselors are also available to help students who may have anxiety about what they have viewed on the news or social media regarding the Florida incident.
Going forward, Edmond Public Schools pledges to you to remain dedicated in our efforts to protect students and staff. We earnestly believe that a safe and secure school climate must precede and support a healthy learning environment.