As we learn more about the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, we recognize there are many questions emerging within our own community. I have heard from several parents, students, staff and community members who have expressed appreciation for the concern and seriousness with which we take safety and security here at Klamath Falls City Schools. We have also received questions from our community as to whether there are additional measures that might be appropriate to improve the safety and security of our schools.
While no school district or public place can ever be completely guaranteed protection from such acts of senseless and inconceivable violence, the safety and security of our students and staff remains our top priority. While it would not be prudent for us to share every detail of our school safety and security plans, I want to share some of the current general safety and security measures in place at our schools (this is not an all-inclusive list):
• Our schools have a strong partnership with local law enforcement and fire/rescue departments;
• Full-time School Resource officer;
• District crisis response plans and individual building safety plans are in place. These plans are reviewed by administrators and district representatives at least annually and more regularly as needed;
• Attentive, aware staff and administration;
• Locked and secured doors before, during, and after school hours with a designated single building entrance;
• Staff photo identification badges;
• Visitor check-in requirements;
• Designated safe areas in each building;
• Surveillance cameras located throughout campuses and in key locations inside building, which monitor all school buildings;
Additionally, schools conduct safety drills periodically during the school year to provide students opportunities and practice lockdown and evacuation procedures. District and building staff work with area law enforcement to review the best practices.
It is critical to note that safety and security is a shared responsibility. School safety and preparedness extends beyond an educational responsibility, it is a community responsibility. I want to thank our first responders, emergency management, policy makers, and others who assist schools in creating safe and prepared learning environments. We are asking all staff, parents, and community members to remain vigilant related to school safety and security measures. We want our schools to remain inviting places for all students and families, and we thank you for understanding and complying with our safety and security measures. We know that you share in our concern and our focus on safety and security.
Beyond reviewing our safety and security measures, we have also been asked by parents and staff how to best talk with children about this tragedy. Attached below, you will find tips on how to support and talk to your children.
Additionally, there are many helpful online resources that provide useful information as we deal with school tragedies, violence, mental illness, and school preparedness. Some to consider are:
1. National Association of School Psychologists (www.nasponline.org).
2. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (www.aacap.org).
3. National Association of School Nurses (www.nasn.org).
4. NEA – www.nea.org
Tips for parents or guardians about the Uvalde tragedy
1. Make time to talk with your child or children. Do not avoid talking about the tragedy. Be open and honest about what occurred. If parents don’t talk about it with their children, the children will hear about the tragedy another way.
2. Reassure your child he or she is safe and will not be left alone.
3. Keep the talk with your child or children developmentally appropriate.
4. Observe your child’s emotional state. Expect delayed reactions from children. Some children will have questions right away while others will not ask questions until later. Encourage your child or children to ask questions.
5. Limit the media coverage for your child. Control what the child or children are seeing and hearing. Younger children don’t have the ability to contextualize traumatic events. Children might personalize the tragedy and think it might happen to them.
6. Try to maintain a normal routine. Regular schedules and routines help children feel safe and secure. Stick to normal routines as much as possible during stressful times.
7. Offer different ways to express feelings. Provide different outlets for children to share feelings such as coloring, drawing, or writing their feelings down.
8. Review safety procedures with your child or children.
9. Parents should monitor their own feelings. Children will pick up on their parent’s anxieties. Parents need a plan to monitor their own feelings.
10. Tell your children you love them, a lot.
In the event that any parents, staff, or community members have comments or questions regarding our crisis plans, please contact George Slaughter @ firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-883-4702, extension: 7138.
Keith A. Brown, Superintendent
Klamath Falls City Schools