March 6, 2018
Safety Planning In Our Schools
The tragedy at Parkland High School in Florida has prompted new conversations in our community about how we secure our schools to ensure student and staff safety. During the past couple of weeks, we were contacted by concerned parents via phone and email about what can be done to make schools safer.
This past Wednesday, school board members began their own conversation about this topic. Like you, they are parents, some with children currently attending school and they share some of the same fears for our children.
The Board has directed district administration to make modifications to the entryways of many of the older elementary schools in our district to make them more secure. In some instances, this means installing a second set of locked doors, reconfiguring the office area for unobstructed line of sight, adding badge scanners to unsecured hallways, and installing additional screens to view the front door area. The Board prioritized this work to begin with our elementary schools and to be completed, if possible, by the beginning of next school year.
During the next couple of months, the Board will continue their discussions about school safety and looking more into the topics of physical building features, closed campuses for high school students, metal detectors, fire alarm response/wait periods, and arming staff with firearms.
Many of you have asked about the current safety practices in our schools and what has been done recently to make schools secure. Below is a list of some of the safety improvements that were made in recent years:
- Installation of multiple cameras with multiple viewing angles at all schools with 30-day video storage.
- Keyless entry system controlled by badges, which can also be operated from computers and smartphones.
- Kennewick Police school resource officers and security guards at each high school
- A security guard at each middle school.
- Badge access to schools by Kennewick Police in case of emergency.
- Increased lockdown capabilities.
- Classroom doors that can be locked from the inside.
- Panic buttons installed that can also be operated from computers and smartphones.
- Monthly school walk-throughs with Kennewick Police Department and Kennewick Fire Department at pre-selected schools.
- Monthly student and staff practice drills, including rotating evacuation, lockdown and tabletop scenarios. Drills are monitored by police and fire agencies and schools receive feedback at pre-selected schools.
- Buses equipped with multiple cameras.
- Anonymous Tips tool available at www.ksd.org enables students, parents, community members, and staff to let us know about safety concerns. (This tool will be expanded soon to include texting, phone and email tips.)
- Emergency Drill notebooks updated monthly to allow for auditing of all building drills.
- Building “Threat and Hazard Assessment” completed with the Kennewick Police Department for each school in the district.
- New schools designed with enhanced security systems (drop down gates, lockdown and evacuation buttons)
- An emphasis by staff to promote the idea of all students having a “Trusted Adult” at the school that they can share information with.
As you can see, we have made a lot of progress, but we know that there is more work to be done. We appreciate everyone who has reached out to us to express their concerns about school safety, and we will keep you posted on any further developments.