From the Superintendent
This is the third part of a multi-week series on school safety with today's focus on drills and anonymous reporting systems. The US Department of Justice has outlined the 10 basic tenets of school-based planning and actions with respect to physical and emotional safety, as shown in the chart below.
In addition to state-mandated fire drills at each school annually, Maine law also requires a lockdown drill which we have reconfigured to include the ALICE concept of enhanced lockdowns. An enhanced lockdown does not rely on the traditional method of hiding and turning off the lights as protection from a potential threat, which has been proven to be largely ineffective. Instead, ALICE's enhanced lockdown includes securing a classroom or space to prevent an intruder from entering in the first place. Depending on the grade level, training of students for these drills will look different:
- At the primary level (grades PK-3), the teacher and/or other school staff will barricade the door(s). Students will stay quiet, listen for instructions, spread out, stay away from view of door and windows and remain standing in order to move quickly if needed. The emphasis for students at this age level is situational awareness where they are taught to observe their surroundings. This training extends to all grade levels as an important part of the ALICE approach to safety and can be generalized to other public settings besides schools, such as grocery stores, malls, etc.
- In grades 4-5, students can bring the teacher chairs, desks, etc. to barricade the door(s). Students will spread out within the room, remain standing and away from doors and windows.
- At the middle level (grades 6-8), students can assist the teacher with barricading the door(s). After barricading they should spread out and stand with a book or object to distract the intruder if they make entry. Students at this age level are also taught to respond to an intruder by moving, making noise, and using distraction techniques. 6th-8th students are not taught control strategies.
- For grades 9-12, Students can assist the teacher with barricading the door. After barricading they should spread out with distraction items. If safe to do so, teach students how to open windows and prepare to evacuate. Students can be taught distraction and control techniques. Statistically, the intruder in this age group is potentially a peer. Students are empowered with this information but not instructed to use control techniques as it is a personal choice.
Anonymous reporting systems are another important component of a total school safety plan outlined by the US Department of Justice. Though our schools have a history of early intervention due to timely information provided by students, staff, and parents/guardians, it is still important to implement an anonymous system that may help us with information we might not otherwise be aware of that could ultimately defuse a potential threat. To this end, the district's Safety and Security Committee has sought the assistance of the Sandy Hook Promise and our district has been granted free use and implementation of their anonymous reporting system, which will be rolled out to the school community in March 2024. Right now, months-long training and setup has begun with the Sandy Hook Foundation to ensure that the reporting system available to the community is aligned with Sandy Hook's national standards. More information will be available when the system is introduced. We are very happy to have been selected by the Sandy Hook Promise for this critical safety tool.
Up Next Week: School climate and Mental health resources
Missed the first two segments? Catch up here:
Part 1: Comprehensive school safety planning & campus/school/classroom security
Part 2: Safety series resumes: Coordination with first responders and school-based law enforcement.
GHS student government recently held an after-hours forum on several topics, with students and staff participating.
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