2018-19 Parent Communication – Safety
I hope each of you are enjoying your summer and looking forward to the beginning of our 2018-19 school year. I would like to update families and our community on several important changes which we believe will assist in making our schools safer for students, staff, and guests. School violence continues to impact communities across our nation, and we want to make sure our preparation is intentional and grounded in best practice.
Oostburg School District applied for and received almost $60,000 in state grant funds. Those funds are being used to install corridor partitions at the high school which will isolate our academic wings from lunchroom and entryway areas. The partitions were a recommendation which came from an onsite safety evaluation and review conducted by The Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Department.
The safety grant includes requirements related to locking and monitoring doors which will result in some changes for the upcoming school year. In the past, our school doors have been open before 6:00am for guest hallway walkers, fitness activities, and students who arrive early for extra help from teachers. We have also had some students arriving early without a specific reason. Beginning this fall, our doors will not be open until 25 minutes prior to the start of the school day and morning access will be limited. Each building will have a an individual monitoring the primary entrances (West main parking lot for OHS/OMS and West main parking lot at OES) during early morning hours. Our door monitors will provide access for specific reasons beginning at 6:00am at the West high school parking lot doors. Students who have arrived early in the past will not be allowed to enter without permission. We do want to continue access for community use but that access will be more closely monitored through the entrances listed above.
Staff safety training is another area of focus for our district. In the past two years our teachers have received initial training in Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE) through The Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Department. This fall, all staff members will participate in a large group review training and a more intensive scenario-based training. All training is coordinated and led by law enforcement officers from the Sheriff’s Department. In addition, we have met with our local fire department leaders to ensure that our school crisis response planning is a coordinated effort between all emergency personnel. We are extremely thankful that our Oostburg community has a large law enforcement presence, including many parents of our students who are involved in either law enforcement or some other type of emergency response. Many of those individuals have reached out in offering their support and guidance as we train and prepare for emergencies.
Although we have had secure entrances at each building for several years, we have installed additional video and door security upgrades over the summer. Each entrance has video camera monitoring, and our high school and middle school now have upgrades which allow us to know when exterior doors are ajar. Our elementary school had this capability as part of the recently completed building project.
You may also have noticed our school district’s job posting for a community resource officer. We are in the process of evaluating the opportunities provided through a position of this nature. This evaluation has included discussions with the Sheriff’s Department, Oostburg Christian School and village leaders, as we consider the viability of adding this role. Unfortunately, the state safety grant funds can’t be used for resource officers and restrictions around licensing and jurisdiction present some hurdles which we continue to navigate. We do believe a resource officer has the potential to bring significant benefit to our community and will continue pursuing avenues related to this role.
In summary, we want stakeholders to know that student safety is a top priority, and our safety planning is intentional and research-based, including heavy collaboration with local law enforcement. We all share a hope that we are never required to utilize this training in response to a actual threat.