Dear Clarkston Community Schools Families,
Here at Clarkston Community Schools, nothing is more important than ensuring the safety of our students and staff. Safety is not something new for us; it has been a work in progress for years. We have continued to make the necessary investments and improvements in our schools when we see the opportunity to enhance our security measures, including:
- All staff have trained in the ALICE protocol through online training courses.
- A majority of our staff participated in live simulation drills with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Officers in 2019.
- All elementary students participate in Safety Week every September, where students participate in several safety drills, including ALICE, tornado, and fire drills.
- All secondary students participate in ALICE drills at the beginning of both semesters.
- With our last bond, all of our buildings have secure entrances equipped with buzz-to-enter systems.
- All classroom doors are equipped with heavy-duty industrial turn locks and now secondary locks.
- A significant investment in mental health and well-being for students and staff, including psychologists, counselors, and a social worker in each building.
With everything we’ve done and all that’s in place, I will be the first to acknowledge that I want to see more. I need to know that we have done all we can to keep everyone safe. While we could take a quick, one-size-fits-all approach to this work, that would be insufficient. I believe our community deserves more. We will continue our work in a thoughtful and pragmatic way, ensuring we make the best decisions for each school, bus, and facility.
Over the past few weeks, every meeting and conversation I have been a part of has been focused on safety. Our entire administrative team met with several Oakland County Sheriff’s Office representatives from the Independence and Springfield sub-stations to review and update our current communication strategies and ensure our process is extraordinarily tight and will stay that way. The most important part of this system is to continue sharing any threat or concerning information with law enforcement, allowing them to determine the credibility.
Our School Safety Team, comprised of district and building leadership and our liaison officers, has met several times recently. After reviewing our current safety measures, we have determined our next steps:
- CCS has invested in NIGHTLOCK for every door in the district. Our staff has already started installing the door stoppers in our buildings and will continue working through the holiday break. The goal is to have NIGHTLOCK installed on all primary classroom doors before students and staff return on January 3 and all ancillary doors by January 27.
- On January 27, ALL CCS staff will participate in a full-day, hands-on ALICE drills.
- Students will not report to school.
- During the day, staff will test our emergency systems, participate in live drills, and then debrief with trauma expert Dr. Jim Henry.
- In February, all students across the district will participate in ALICE drills. We are waiting until the second semester to ensure students learn best practices in the appropriate classrooms. We will also offer an open session with Dr. Henry for parents to learn ways to further support their children dealing with trauma.
- Also, in February, St. Joseph Mercy Health System will visit all of our buildings to facilitate Stop the Bleed training for all staff.
- There are several other facets to the work we are currently doing and will have further information to come, including:
- Updating the way we utilize our phone PA systems.
- Creating new detailed emergency maps for each building and classroom.
- Reviewing other safety equipment options.
- Completing a full facility assessment with national safety experts, our architects, local law enforcement, and building administration.
Finally, safety isn’t just about training and facilities. A team of administrators and staff members completed a thorough review of our threat assessment process. We now have a comprehensive Threat and Risk Assessment Procedures Guide utilizing nationally-recognized tools. All administrators, counselors, school social workers, and school psychologists participated in training today to ensure the alignment of procedures throughout the district.
All I have detailed to you today is not the end of our work. We will continue investigating ways to ensure safety. We will determine any other necessary enhancements to our procedures and facilities. We will instill new ways to support the well-being and mental health of our students and staff.
At this time, I intend on having a special Board meeting later in January. We will have several presentations to show in detail the work we have done and the recommended next steps. If you have any questions, please reach out to your building administrator or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Shawn Ryan, Superintendent
About Clarkston Community Schools: Clarkston is a highly regarded school district with an enrollment of nearly 7,100 students. We have seven elementary schools (K-5), one middle school serving grades 6-7, one junior high for grades 8-9, and Clarkston High School, which serves students in grades 10-12. We also have a virtual academy, an Early Childhood Center serving children ages 3-5, and an alternative high school/community education facility. Clarkston Community Schools students are well-prepared for a future that excites them, and believe that they can achieve their dreams. The mission of Clarkston Community Schools is to create a learning environment where students, staff, and families are challenged, healthy, engaged, safe, and supported.
Read more Clarkston Community Schools News at www.clarkston.k12.mi.us/news.
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