April Edition 2018
School Safety and Mental Health Focus
For most of us, given recent events, school safety is high on our minds. At the March 17th PTA meeting, Mrs. Lynam and I presented on the drills and procedures that we engage our students in throughout the school year. We discussed actions we have taken as a school to try to ensure a higher level of safety and security of our building. If you missed our meeting, please find the attached PowerPoint for your review. In addition to the security measures discussed, as a group we discussed the deeper issue that comes forward as part of these national tradegies, and that is the nationwide concern over mental health. As is often discussed in the news, mental health is a key component in the prevention of such tragic events. In collaboration with our school counselor, Mr. Gillespie, we have provided some information on mental health in this edition of Curriculum Corner with the hopes that it may be useful to you as a family. We know that we have a highly engaged and supportive community, and we appreciate your continued support in keeping us a safe and secure school.
Yours in Collaboration,
Amanda Wadsworth, Principal
Alayna Lynam, Assistant Principal
Kevin Gillespie, Guidance Counselor
Safety and Security Questions
We have portables in the back of our building. How do we make them more secure?
- Treat the buildings as individual structures, and ensure they follow the same safety procedures as the main structure.
- A fence could create a different safety concern in case of situations like fire or evacuation from danger within the building.
- Consider a natural barrier versus a fence. This could be some type of shrubbery.
- Have procedures in place that ensure adult monitoring of the children in transition. (Please refer to our PPT for the steps we have taken.)
Should we keep the doors open during recess?
- Doors should be locked at all times. There is more of a safety concern with doors unlocked.
- New procedures for active shooters will not always have students returning to the building. Doors left open could allow entry of the present danger.
How do we secure our building after school given the number of after school activities?
- The staff at central office are working on this concern, as it exists at most schools.
- Some ideas that may be implemented include: designating specific schools for after school activities and working with the after school programs on procedures for access to the building.
- Another idea is to provide time controlled cards to after school staff that will only allow entry during their programs.
What do our teachers do with their doors to help protect our students during an active shooter?
- We are in the process of purchasing lock down magnets for all doors so that teachers can keep the doors locked at all times. In case of an emergency, the magnet is removed and doors shut.
How do we manage large event safety and security? Specifically, how do we allow entry to only those individuals we want in our building?
- As part of our event planning, we will continue the practice that we currently use with our Halloween parade. Families will be given a "ticket" in advance of the event sent home through their child. The ticket will need to be presented as families enter the building. Without the ticket, families would need to sign in at the front office. Some events that would utilize these tickets would include: American Education Week and Quarterly Celebrations (invitation)
How are our substitutes vetted and screened for employment?
All applicants for substitute teaching or any employment with HCPSS are screened in Maryland Judiciary Case search and also via the National Sex Offenders Registry to see if there is any past history of criminal activity or child abuse offences.
Prior to being hired they are fingerprinted and we receive a clearance on their prints from the state of MD and the FBI
Once they are hired, if they are arrested, we receive an alert form the Criminal Justice information System (CJIS) with information on the incident
All new hires compete a CPS Background(child protective services) /Adam Walsh Background Clearance Request that is submitted to the Department of Social Services.
Why are police officers coming to our schools?
- The purpose of the visits is to build positive relationships with our students and staff.
- The police officers are NOT involved in any disciplinary actions.
- Police officers walk the building with administrators or in some cases our guidance counselor. They can assist in identifying any security concerns. Their knowledge of our buildings can assist in cases of emergencies.