Safety Information

Otsego Elementary School Safety Information

Keeping Your Children Safe

In light of yesterday's school shooting incident in Florida, I thought it necessary to update each of you on how we train and prepare to handle a situation like this in order to protect your children and to minimize the harm an outside threat could cause should they come to our school.


The safety of your children is our #1 priority and we prepare and train our staff and students in case of the unimaginable. Below, I have listed and outlined what we preach and teach to your children and our staff as well as the drills we perform each year so that we are as prepared as we can be in case of a threat.


Please see and review the information below and if you have any questions or concerns, its important that you reach out to us and let us know. I can be reached by email at kbaughman@otsegoknights.org or by phone (419) 823-4381.

Two Pronged Approach

Both approaches are proactive measures that are meant to minimize the likelihood of a threat in our school and to increase the safety/protection of our students and staff.


  1. Work relentlessly to build a Culture of Caring at Otsego Elementary School. Develop a Respectful, Responsible, and Safe student body who care about one another. Provide help for students in need. #OtsegoKnights (PBIS & Medal of Honor Character Education, Counseling Services)

  2. Train and Prepare our students for emergency situations. Give staff and students the necessary tools to report suspicious or threatening comments/behaviors and to act if/when an emergency occurs in our school. (Run, Hide, Fight & School Safety Drills)

PBIS and Bullying Prevention

A common profile or theme in many of the school shooters are young people who feel disconnected or ignored and students who are victims of bullying. Otsego has implemented Positive Behavior Supports and Interventions district wide to help create a culture of caring. We want students that are Respectful, Responsible, and Safe. We are making daily efforts like no time before to try and create a culture of respect and caring and fight against bullying and mistreatment everyday. However, these are kid,s and bullying has been around for a long time and although incidents of bullying are much lower than in the past, we know it happens. Bullying today is much more common online and through isolation which can be more difficult to detect and more often than not it happens in virtual spaces and chatrooms and in apps that many of us don't even know exist. The programs we are implementing are helping but nothing is 100%. However, the more we continue to build a culture at Otsego of Caring and Respect, the more likely we are to not create students filled with attitudes of resentment, anger, and revenge towards our school and the kids in it.

Character Education

Through the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation and in honor of our very own Edward C. Byers Medal of Honor Recipient we have implemented and utilize curriculum to help build character by using examples of men and women who have demonstrated positive characteristics through their service and sacrifice to others. We have used the slogan this year of "Be an Everyday Hero" in the lives of others by encouraging our students to be Respectful, Responsible, and Safe towards one another. All in an effort to create a Culture of Caring in our building.

Mental Health & Counseling

Besides our own professional school counselors, we have partnered with the Children's Resource Center. We have a Professional Counselor on hand 4 full days a week as additional support that we utilize through a referral for process students and their families who struggle with a wide range of issues. We cannot ignore this, nor should we hide the fact anymore that many students struggle with depression, anxiety, and various other mental disorders that affect them in many different ways. We have already begun taking steps to help these students and their families. This is a very real problem and we are continuing to try and find ways to positively impact these young people and to let them know that they matter, we care, and we are here.

Being Prepared for the Worst

RUN, HIDE, FIGHT

Students at Otsego Elementary School are taught to Run, Hide, or Fight. This is a quick and easy thing to remember like Stop, Drop, and Roll. Below I have explained in greater detail what Run, Hide, Fight means and actions your child should take (and are being taught) if they found themselves in a situation where someone comes into our building to do harm.
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Calling 911

  • Only call 911 after you are safe
  • Try and remain calm and follow instructions
  • Keep hands visible at all times once police/first responders arrive and do as they say
  • Avoid pointing or yelling
  • Know that help for any injured students or staff is on its way

RUN

The first thing we teach students, is that if they can escape and get out of the building they should. Don't think twice just get out.


  • Only if they are certain they can get out and have a clear safe escape route.
  • Leave their belongings behind
  • Help others escape with them, if possible
  • Prevent others from going towards harm, into the building
  • Call 911, only when they are clear of danger

HIDE

If students are caught in a situation where they do not know where the threat is and cannot safely run out of the building, they should HIDE. (Lockdown) Teachers and students have been trained about our lockdown procedures and practice for these situations. Staff and students have been given the tools and know how to protect themselves if they are locked in a room and hiding. Not only do we engage the "Boots" that have been installed in all our rooms throughout the building, students and Teachers will barricade the door with anything and everything making it virtually impossible for the threat to get into the room. They know to turn off the lights and hide out of sight and to be silent.
  • Lock and blockade doors
  • Silence phones/devices
  • Hide out of sight
  • Remain silent

Ideally, staff and students will hide out of sight from the threat and provide protection if shots (desks/tables) are fired in their direction.

FIGHT

If a student cannot run or hide, their last resort is to fight. This is an absolute last resort.

  • Students should try and incapacitate the shooter by throwing objects and moving
  • Improvise weapons (find or use anything from their surroundings to hit or throw with)
  • Act with physical aggression
  • Commit to their actions

BUILDING SAFETY ENHANCEMENTS

Cameras

Virtually every space in the elementary school common areas are monitored by cameras, with the exception of course of restrooms. We have both internal cameras and external cameras that cover our grounds and parking lots.


Although Cameras do not necessarily stop a threat from coming in, they help us locate threats and communicate them throughout using our phones in the classrooms or PA System which could help us evacuate students safely based on the location of the threat. Video can also help us identify suspects and help apprehend people.

Secure Doors

Our doors automatically lock and unlock at certain times. The only unlocked doors at the elementary school during the day are the exterior main entrance doors at the front of the school. All guests, must come through the front doors and go through office to gain access to the building. Students are not to allow people in and out through side doors or prop doors open. Students know not to let people in from the outside.

The Boot

Last year our district, through donations, purchased a classroom lockdown mechanism called "The Boot". These devices effectively lock doors from the inside making it virtually impossible for anyone from the outside to enter that room. Each time we practice a school safety drill such as a lockdown we have teachers and students engage the Boot. The device takes only seconds to engage and makes it practically impossible for a person to get into the room.

Reflective Room Markers

Outside each room we have also installed highly reflective door markers that are visible from long distances away. These are to assist law enforcement and first responders to navigate our building and locate intruders quicker as well as get to rooms that may need assistance efficiently.

DRILLS/PROCEDURES

Rapid Dismissal Drills

Rapid Dismissal Drills concern the evacuation of students from the building in response to sudden emergencies. (Fire, Gas, Etc.)


Each year we perform at least 6 Rapid Dismissal Drills to train our students for instances where we may need to evacuate the building quickly. Typically we can evacuate the entire elementary school in under two minutes and can reassemble and account for each and everyone one of them within 5-7 minutes. Students are assigned areas to reassemble and teachers take attendance of their class and report any missing students to specific personnel.


During these drills, the administration will block entrances, vary the times of these drills, and pull students to simulate different scenarios and to keep our teachers aware.

School Safety Drills

These are different than Rapid Dismissal's in that School Safety Drills are specifically designed to educate staff and students regarding procedures to be used in response to a sudden emergency caused by an act of violence.


Each year, in addition to our Rapid Dismissal Drills, we have three school safety drills. We practice varying situations and lockdowns as well as off campus evacuations, which requires that our students reconvene off campus at our designated sight. During these drills we reinforce "RUN, HIDE, FIGHT."


In addition to the three safety drills, we conduct one Theoretical Drill, which does NOT involve our students. This is a staff professional development where we work with local law enforcement and first responders to discuss plans and procedures. We have even brought weapons into the building and in a controlled environment fired different types of weapons through the building and practiced our plans. We do NOT do this with students as it is traumatic and we do not want to cause any undue trauma or stress.

Tornado Drills

We also conduct one Tornado Drill at the start of the school year and then once a month from April - June. Students and Staff follow and practice our procedures and move to designated "Safe" locations in our building.

School Resource Officer

Deputy Brian Ruckstuhl

Our campus has a well equipped and well trained school resource officer who works closely with our students, staff, and administrative team. He is very knowledgeable about our policies and procedures and he knows our campus layout as well as anyone. Most importantly he cares deeply about our students and spends lots of time getting to know them and building positive relationships with them. He is frequently in lunch rooms and present for large assemblies and events. Although, Deputy Ruckstuhl cannot be in all places at all times he is there to quickly respond to acts of violence against us and to help quickly eliminate threats against us. We are very fortunate to have him and just his presence is a major deterrent to anyone out there wishing to do harm to us.

We need YOU!

Report Suspicious Behavior

We encourage our students, staff, and community to help be our eyes and ears. If you hear/see something, SAY SOMETHING. If you come across something on social media, overhear your kids talking about something, or anything else where you feel uncomfortable or concerned, contact us immediately and let us know what you know. This is a team effort and we need to work together. So, if you hear/see/ think something is not right, don't be afraid to take action by contacting the police or the school. Better to be safe than sorry.