Safety for your children is paramount for us. Sound conscience formation to keep their souls healthy and a secure environment where they can be safe and feel safe from intruders are both very important. Communication of our plans to you as parents is also part of the process. First of all, we have a crisis response team that is revising protocol for both preventing and responding to security issues. Several years ago we used the SRP (standard response protocol) program from the I Love You Guys Foundation. Most of those components will stay in place. ALICE (Alert, Lockout, Inform, Counter and Evacuate) was the foundation of the recent training done here in our parish and in many of our diocesan schools and we are now implementing many of their strategies. I was glad to see some of you at that training.
In the last week the fire and police experts, as well as Joe Wright, the LPS security coordinator, have been in our building to do a walk through and give advice as we further develop our plans. Among the first things each group noted were our MANY cameras covering our interior and exterior, along with our secure perimeter and “locked door” policy in our classrooms. Classrooms have a magnet that covers the latch mechanism so when a child leaves for the restroom or the like, they can get back in easily. In a case of emergency, the magnet can be slid up or down and the door is locked in a second: no need to find keys, go to the outside of the door and lock it to be secure. In the words of Mr. Wright as he examined our doors, “The locked door with slide-out magnet is very effective, especially with the sturdy metal doors we have in most locations.”
The first picture is with the door operating normally, the second has the magnet in place allowing the door to be closed, but not locked so children can reenter.
The committee is taking in information and we have begun to modify our procedures to increase school security. Thus far, one addition is that we have incorporated a narthex monitor during morning Mass on school days. Their goal is to be aware of who comes into the church, to alert the office is there is any suspicious activity, to insure restrooms are safe and that children going to the office get there safely.
An offsite reunification location is also essential in the planning. If there would ever be a need to evacuate the school (gas leak, fire or other crisis), it is important to have an alternative site prepared to temporarily house our student body. Cornerstone Christian Church has agreed to be our reunification site, and we will reciprocate and be theirs. (Ecumenism takes many forms!) Earlier we had used Humann School as our site, but another school is not recommended since they will likely be in session and the addition of another student body….well, I can see why they don’t recommend it! It makes sense when you take a little extra time to think. That’s the key in much of the preparation: think through it and what will likely work. There is no substitute for advanced thought.
We will continue to inform you of specifics as they develop. We will be especially intentional of notifying you before we do a lockdown drill, as that can be frightening for some children. Julia Cook, who writes many books for children on social/emotional learning, has a book called, “I’m Not Scared, I’m Prepared” which is exceptional for helping young children understand the procedures without being scared.
Please God, we will never need any of these procedures, but there is no substitute for being prepared. If any parents would like to join our Crisis Response Team in discussing protocol, we are meeting on Mondays after school. You would be welcome to join us and bring another voice to the process. Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested. Meetings typically run 45 minutes or so.
I would like to thank our committee members: Sister Mary Angela, Jennifer Conzemius, Chris Jacobsen, Mary Kouma, Peg Magnuson, Tom Magnuson, and Beth McElroy for their ongoing service.