Yesterday’s events in Uvalde, Texas, have us once again struggling to understand how such a thing could happen. A lone gunman killed at least 21 people at Robb Elementary School, leaving many Americans concerned that something similar could happen in their school district. It’s a question no one can really answer because no one knows the circumstances of the next situation that will occur. However, Fort Zumwalt has several layers of security and protection that should go a long way toward avoiding such a tragedy here. These layers of protection include:
--Hot-button police radios at all schools that bypass 911 in an emergency
--Electronic locks at all school entrances
--Security cameras inside and outside at all schools
--Glass-strengthening film at elementary school entrances
--The Raptor electronic background check system for visitors at all schools
--Gated parking lots and security at all high schools
--School Resource Officers at all secondary schools
--Crisis Counselors at all secondary schools and social workers available to elementary schools
We are also constantly evaluating to see what we can do better. Plans are in development to construct vestibules at the entrances of all elementary schools that currently don’t have them so that all buildings can have a double entry security system that would allow people to check-in at the first entry door and be checked again at the second entry door.
I meet regularly with the police chiefs from our policing jurisdictions and review security measures with them for their advice. The chiefs from St. Peters, O’Fallon and St. Charles County have always been impressed with the measures installed in our school district. They have not advised the district on any additional measures the district should employ. The best protection, however, is not equipment. It is reporting any suspicious activity or behaviors that individuals observe to school or police authorities. It can also be done through the district Safeline (314-941-0331), which is monitored 24-7. These phone calls to the Safeline can be done anonymously and any reports are checked out thoroughly.
The school year will end in the next few days. It is the perfect opportunity to have conversations with your students to better understand how they are feeling about these issues. There are some resources included below, but please feel free to reach out to your building principal or counselor who can advise you on how you can alleviate your children’s concerns. As always, if you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Parents and caregivers may find value in these resources:
Helping your children manage distress in the aftermath of a shooting (American Psychological Association)
Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Educators-National Association of School Psychologists (National Association of School Psychologists)
10 Strategies for Talking to Children About School Shootings (Psychology Today)
Age-Related Reactions to a Traumatic Event (National Child Traumatic Stress Network)
Talking to Children About School Shootings (School Crisis Network)
School Violence Prevention: Tips for Parents & Educators (National Association of School Psychologists)