This issue of the Superintendent's Road Show is about communicating school safety. Providing a safe environment for effective learning and healthy social-emotional interaction is our first priority.
Being prepared is a combination of training, vigilance, and caring about kids. This mindset belongs to every LEUSD school. Below are examples of how district schools and staff ensure safety on a daily basis.
School safety is taught and reinforced through emergency plans, district wide training exercises, and regular drills. Multiple fire, earthquake, and lockdown drills are mandated annually for every public school, per Education Code.
Three contract Riverside County Sheriff’s Department School Resource Officers (SROs) work closely with LEUSD schools every day. SROs are familiar faces around our secondary schools. Afterhours law enforcement tactical training has also been staged at various campuses and the district transportation yard, including active shooter and hostage training scenarios.
The District continues to assess safety through the work of the Safety Committee, site administration, and staff. For example, parent volunteers are well acquainted with school check-in procedures and visitor protocols. Expanding check-in protocols to include afterhours school use will also be examined.
School facilities are designed to provide a safe environment. LEUSD is furthering its efforts to secure classrooms by installing door thumb locks allowing the doors to be locked from the inside. The District is also upgrading school surveillance cameras and equipment.
Over the past four years, LEUSD’s Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) has increased our ability to serve the emotional needs of all students. Through effective intervention, the District is proactive in supporting students who may be struggling academically and in their social-emotional development. Teacher led collaboration through weekly PLC time is another support system for student achievement and social-emotional growth.
School lockdown protocol is designed to meet any real or perceived threat. Fortunately, most lockdown incidents are precautionary, such as heightened safety during nearby law enforcement activity.
During a lockdown when the threat level is unknown, parents and family members are expected to obey lockdown protocol. For example, rushing to a school on lockdown may seriously impede efforts by first responders. Therefore, it is essential that family members await instructions from the school or District Office during lockdown.
In an actual emergency, LEUSD will use an automated telephone dialer, email, and text messages for official instructions via SchoolMessenger. School Web sites and district social media will also carry instructions for parents/guardians and staff in an emergency.
Following a lockdown, the site administrator will send a SchoolMessenger announcement to inform parents about the causes and outcomes, to ensure factual information is given, and to combat rumors.
How should we talk to our children about school safety? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (healthychildren.org), when talking about school emergencies, young children need brief simple information that should be balanced with reassurance. Young children typically gauge how threatening or serious an event is by adult reactions. Upper elementary and middle school children may be more vocal in asking questions. They may also need parental guidance in separating reality from fantasy.
Students, parents, and families are the first line of communication regarding school safety: teach your children to have trust in school staff if they need someone they can talk to; teach them to say something if s/he sees or hears something potentially dangerous or threatening.
With older youth, stress the importance of being aware and acting responsibly. During school hours, any threats or concerns should be reported immediately to school staff. During evenings and weekend hours, contact local law enforcement to report any threats or concerns.
When parents and guardians have questions about school safety, please contact the site administrator, or refer to the school safety plan.
In light of recent events, again, we wish to reassure parents, students and staff that the district is working hard to keep schools safe for everyone.