Last week, we witnessed the devastating effects of yet another school shooting, and an arrest in response to a school threat in Fair Haven, VT. These horrific events remind us that every student, teacher, parent, school administrator and community member plays a role in providing a safe and secure environment for all those who attend, visit and work at our schools.
The Vermont Agency of Education and the Department of Public Safety have worked with school systems, law enforcement, and first responders over the past few years to make sure our schools and first responders are well prepared in implementing school safety best practices. This was hard and careful work, and we are grateful to the many individuals who partner and prepare to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our children.
We take this emergency preparedness very seriously. We remain actively engaged with our local, regional and state partners to ensure they are keenly aware of the robust resources available through the Vermont School Safety Center. We will continue to engage in future school safety initiatives that will provide a safe and secure environment for our school community. The Northeast Kingdom Superintendents’ group has organized an ALICE training to be held in the NEK on May 1st and 2nd. We will be sending at least one person from each school to that training and those people will plan for next steps in implementing ALICE protocols.
As a reminder, if an emergency were to occur at any of our schools, we would use School Messenger to notify parents of the unfolding event. The school’s emergency response procedures would be executed quickly.
In a school emergency, your first instinct may be to pick up the telephone and start calling the school or rush up to the school and get your child/children. This only complicates matters from a safety and security standpoint. Parents too close to an incident often hinder the rescue attempts of police and fire officials on the scene. The best action parents can take in an emergency is to stay close to their phone and email and to monitor local radio and TV reports for regular updates and instructions.
I want to assure students, parents, faculty and staff that school safety is our top priority, and we will continue to collaborate with local emergency planners and our first response community to continue our school emergency preparedness efforts. Below are a couple of resources that may be helpful when considering how to talk with children about violence.