Campuses Will Be Closed Beginning Next School Year
Posted by Sandra Lyon, Ed.D. on 6/8/2018
As we close out the 2017-18 school year I want to begin by congratulating the Palm Springs Unified School District’s class of 2018 on a job very well done! Every class has its own special uniqueness and each is also impacted by events locally and nationally that add to the overall circumstance in which its graduation occurs. Part of the context for this this year’s class, unfortunately, included an increased number of violent acts that took place at some high schools across the country this school year. While, thankfully, there weren’t incidents on any local campuses, our entire education community, including staff members, parents and – most deeply – students, were affected. Seeing and hearing what their peers were dealing with understandably left our students with a wide array of feelings and emotions including fear, sadness and anger. Rather than exhibit those feelings in a negative manner, our students were proactive in both paying tribute to the victims and expressing their feelings about violence and gun control in positive, productive ways. We couldn’t be more proud of how our students – and particularly those in the class of 2018 – handled themselves during these most difficult times.
That brings me to the topic for today…school safety. The safety of our students and staff has been, is and always be our number one priority. To that end, we are implementing a closed campus policy district wide beginning with the 2018-19 school year, which begins Aug. 8. Previously our front gates were open before the beginning of the school day, allowing parents to escort their younger students to their classrooms. As I’m sure you are all aware, the climate has changed, and now we must consider the possibility that someone with a weapon could come on a school campus and potentially jeopardize the safety of our students and staff. While we know statistically that this is a highly unlikely event, it is still incumbent on us to take proactive steps to ensure student safety.
Moving forward, all classroom doors on all campuses will be locked at all times so entry from the outside will not be automatic. Staff members or students needing to access classrooms after classes begin will need to identify themselves to the classroom teacher before entry is permitted. If a school is on lockdown due to a potential threat either on campus or in the area of a campus, no one will be given access to a locked classroom during that lockdown. School administrators will be working with staff, students, parents and community members to communicate this change and how it will be handled at their schools.
All visitors – including parents – to a school site will need to check in at the front office, sign in and be issued a badge. The visitor will be announced to the classroom teacher and/or escorted by a staff member to the classroom.
We understand that closing our campuses prior to the start of the school day may be considered inconvenient or even extreme by some of our families. At the same time, we have heard from many parents and staff members who support the increased safety measures and appreciate the need to do whatever we possibly can to ensure our campuses are as safe as possible.
In this blog a few months ago, I shared that our elementary and middle school site staff members were being trained in the HERO (Hide, Escape, Run, Overcome) program that addresses how to respond to an intruder on campus. Many of our staff members already shared this important information with their students, and all will provide this training to their students at the beginning of the next school year. High school staff members and students will receive training this school year as well.
Thank you for your continued support, and please feel free to contact your school site administrator or our Student Support Services Department with any concerns or suggestions you may have regarding student safety.