The tragic school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida has made all schools across the country reassess their best efforts to keep students and staff safe at all times.
OESJ takes that responsibility very seriously. We want to take this opportunity to review the safety precautions in place at OESJ schools and, as happens after an incident like the one in Florida, to examine what we can do better. At OESJ, the following precautions are in place now:
A “buzz in” system to enter the buildings. Each person is seen and interviewed by the office staff before they are admitted into the buildings.
All visitors are required to enter directly to the main office to sign in and state their business.
Surveillance cameras are used inside and outside at all buildings.
Fire and evacuation drills are held regularly for students, faculty and staff.
Emergency Crisis Teams operate in each building and are called into action as warranted.
There are district-wide and school-specific School Safety Plans that dictate how an emergency will be handled in the schools.
Each building has social workers, counselors and psychologists who work with students experiencing stress in their lives. Character Education is also used to discuss and reinforce sensitive topics, such as anti-bullying, with students.
As part of the capital project scheduled to kick off this summer, the main office at the Junior/Senior High School will have a secure vestibule built and the office will be moved to just inside the main doors. At the Elementary School, a more secure entry and lobby will be created.
The administration work very closely with law enforcement to analyze potential student issues and deal with them before they become threats. Even in neighboring school districts, when potentially threatening incidents occur, OESJ is notified of the situation by law enforcement.
School safety is a community responsibility. We ask our families help in this regard. With the speed of social media, information and rumors spread very quickly between students and often get distorted as it is shared. Please calm fears when necessary and encourage thoughtful and deliberate responses to implied or direct threats. “Hear Something/Say Something” is a great slogan, but saying something via facebook or twitter is not ideal as it can cause unnecessary panic. The right course of action is to tell parents, administrators, teachers, or law enforcement directly so the validity of threats may be properly determined.
Everybody deals with grief and what they hear in the news differently. Here are some links to review with your children if you see that they are experiencing stress about what they hear or see in the media:
- American Psychological Association: Talking to your children about school shootings – http://www.apa.org/topics/violence/school-shooting.aspx
- REMS: Tips for Talking With and Helping Children and Youth Cope After a Disaster or Traumatic Event – https://rems.ed.gov/docs/samhsa_tipstalkingchildrenyouthtraumaticevents.pdf
- Parent Today: When the News Gets Scary – http://www.parenttoday.org/when-the-news-gets-scary/
- Parent Today: Helping children weather the storm from the news cloud – http://www.parenttoday.org/helping-children-weather-the-storm-from-the-news-cloud
- Coping After a School Shooting – https://www.doi.gov/sites/doi.gov/files/migrated/pmb/hr/upload/Coping-After-a-School-Shooting.pdf
- Managing Your Distress in the Aftermath of a Shooting – http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/mass-shooting.aspx
Taking with Children – https://grievingstudents.org/module-section/talking-with-children/
- Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers – http://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-safety-and-crisis/talking-to-children-about-violence-tips-for-parents-and-teachers