The shootings at our nation's schools are becoming, what appear to be, a tragic regular part of our news cycle and are unfortunately becoming part of a new normal of senseless killings that are ending the lives of students and teachers. Families continue to lose children, cousins, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers. The final heroic action of the assistant football coach/security guard in Florida shines as a testimony that there are good people in this world.
We take the safety and security of your children very seriously. We have protocols and procedures in place that are reviewed annually, and updated as new information is available, by our administrative team. We discuss these procedures with our first responders. Drills are held throughout the year; lock-down drills have become a required part of the school year.
A good question came up at the Board meeting last night as to the message we send to our kids when we have these lock-down drills. It is a fine line between helping a kindergartener take the drill seriously and not creating undue anxiety for a 5-year-old child. We will continue to review our messaging to children to ensure it is age appropriate and share that messaging through our school newsletters so you can have further conversations at home as you feel necessary.
Our children hear about these horrific acts on the news, in the car, from older kids and from conversations we think our children are not listening to. While statistically, schools are still some of the safest places to be, that confidence is eroding when we hear of children and teachers being murdered in the one place where they should always be safe.
There are some resources that I have linked below to help address conversations with your children. In addition, we need to encourage our children, our friends, and family to report troubling social media messages that they may receive either directly or indirectly. I am personally aware of two situations in Colorado where potential tragedy was averted due to a student or other adult reporting presumed threats that were seen on social media to a school administrator. The adage of "see something, say something" has never rung more true. One step in ensuring our schools remain safe is reporting behaviors or situations that are potentially threatening.
We will continue to do everything we can to ensure the safety of your children, our students, and our staff. We will continue to evaluate our protocols and make changes that align to best practice as we work with, and learn from, local first responders and other experts in the field.
While this is not the message I would have hoped to send out on a Friday before a long weekend (or any day of the week, for that matter), I felt it was important to let you know that we do take this seriously. Please keep the families of those whose lives have been forever changed in your thoughts and prayers. And perhaps an extra hug for your kids tonight wouldn't be a bad idea either.
Kyle A. Schumacher, Ed.D.
La Grange School District 102