Roaring Fork schools revisiting safety policies after Uvalde, Texas school shooting
The latest deadly school shooting, this one in Uvalde, Texas, is prompting the Roaring Fork School District to review its school safety policies and procedures.
School board members have asked district staff to prepare a public presentation ahead of the 2022-23 school year to go over the protocols in place, and what might need to be reviewed or in some cases reinstated after things got a little lax during the pandemic.
Given some of the public health unknowns early on in the pandemic, some practices were counter to building security and safety measures, said Jeff Gatlin, chief operating officer for the district, during the regular Wednesday Board of Education meeting in Carbondale.
Things like propping classroom doors open to help with circulation became commonplace again. But that will have to change, Gatlin said.
“One of the things we’re going to drive home with our building leaders is going back to tightened security protocols,” he said.
In 2015, three years after the deadly Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the Roaring Fork district used some of the money from a bond election to install bullet-proof security vestibules at the entrances of each of its schools.
Also, “We tightened security protocols and electronic monitoring to prevent unwanted visitors from entering,” Gatlin and Superintendent Rob Stein wrote in a memo to the board for Wednesday’s meeting. “We regularly conduct lockdown drills to teach our students when to hide, when to run, and when to fight when a threatening actor enters the school.”
The police departments in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt also now provide full-time school resource officers (SROs) to help with school security.
“These SROs are more than law enforcement officers,” the memo states. “They are trusted friends and counselors and early interventionists for many of our students and families.”
Beyond that, “They are available on a moment’s notice to respond when there is criminal activity or a threat to the safety of our schools or students.”
The district also works closely with the police departments to investigate any criminal behavior, especially if student safety is at risk, the memo stated.
Staff and students are also trained to watch for any warning signs and to report any concerning behavior, Gatlin said.
Students, staff and families have access to Safe2Tell, a platform where they can report any concerns anonymously, and a special automated service flags any concerning phrases or words used on school computers.
Regular surveys also ask students if they feel safe at school, and if they’ve been subjected to bullying.
In the recent statewide Teaching and Learning Conditions Colorado (TLCC) survey, 97% of district teachers who responded said that their school is a safe place to work, Gatlin also pointed out.
School-based mental health services and referrals have also been stepped up in recent years, and each school community has a full-time mental health professional available in the schools.
But gun violence is more than a school security issue, Stein said, adding that the board may wish to make a policy statement endorsing “sensible gun safety solutions.”
Stein equated it to a formal statement issued by the school board in 2020 opposing the proposed Rocky Mountain Industrials limestone quarry expansion near Glenwood Springs, due to the potential health and safety impacts related to school bus route conflicts with haul trucks. The quarry expansion remains under Bureau of Land Management review.
Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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