School safety is a topic that is always on the minds of those of us in positions to be responsible for the safety and security of our students, staff, and visitors. However, there is a heightened sense of awareness of this topic for many since the tragic event in Parkland, Florida. So what are we doing in Bexley Schools?
Last September, we took steps to increase safety and security by adding “no gun” stickers to all of our doors, piloting auto-lock doors in the High School library, and reassigning staff during lunch times at our elementary schools. Additionally, we have taken advantage of conferences and workshops on school safety by having representatives attend in order to help us improve our processes.
Since February, I have called for a review of our safety procedures. John Eikenberry, Business Manager; Jon Hood, Principal Maryland ES; and James Harless, Public Information Officer; conducted the review and have created a one-page tip sheet to assist staff and students in the event one of our safety procedures must be enacted. They are gathering feedback on that tip sheet from principals to finalize the document. It will be disseminated to all staff for their information and will be posted in classrooms to assist students and visitors much like our tornado and fire procedures are posted.
In addition, our building principals have taken time to meet with PTOs to talk about their safety protocols. They have also conducted additional reviews of procedures with staff and students and have implemented more practice of those procedures. They will continue to drill and review procedures with staff and students during the remainder of the school year. If you have specific questions regarding your child’s school, please contact the principal.
You can also help us to keep our staff and students safe. Please always enter our buildings through the designated visitor entrances. Please do not knock on doors to ask students or staff to let you in. We have procedures for building visitors and following them is one of the most important ways to keep our kids safe. Also, you must wear the visitor badge when you are in our schools. Make sure it is visible to staff and students. While we are a small community, everyone does not know everyone and it is important that everyone follow our procedures.
Finally, John Eikenberry is convening a task force to conduct our required three-year review and update of all of our emergency/safety procedures. This task force will include representatives from the following groups: administrators, teachers, non-certified staff, Bexley Police, and community members who have expertise in the areas of safety, security, and/or first response tactics. Finally, an outside security firm will be part of our task force. Once the task force work is complete, the plan will be reviewed by the Bexley Police and the Department of Homeland Security before it can be adopted for implementation.
As we move forward, we will continue to take steps to ensure that our procedures are implemented consistently and that our staff and students participate in drills that truly prepare them in the event of an emergency or security situation.