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By: John Hay Partners | February 26, 2018

Dear Seattle Schools Families and Community,

As Dr. Nyland shared last week, we continue to share in the grief following the Florida school shooting. We are also inspired by the advocacy of the students and support their efforts to ensure that this type of incident never happens again in a school.

Safety is our top priority. This includes ensuring that our buildings are made as safe as possible, as well as training our staff. Every year we conduct Safety and Security Audits for each of our schools. These reports help us prioritize the safety needs of each school. For years, our Building Excellence (BEX) and Building, Technology, and Academics/Athletics (BTA) Levies have focused on improving school safety, as well as enhancing the instructional environment. We will continue this focus on our next levy proposal, as well as continuing to seek additional grant funding when these opportunities arise. As of this school year, here are some of the safety precautions we have in place at schools throughout the district: 

  • Annually, schools update their safety plans, and every month schools practice emergency drills, including lockdowns and evacuations, so that staff and students know how to respond in case an emergency.
  • Most of our schools have 1-point access during school hours. This means that all doors, except the front door, are locked.
  • Many of our middle and elementary schools have buzzers at the front door, which allows office staff to verify visitors before they enter the building.
  • Some of our schools use key cards instead of traditional keys.
  • All our middle and high schools and some of our elementary schools have security cameras that monitor the halls. 
  • All our middle and high schools have at least one security specialist on site.
  • The Safety and Security Department has a School Threat Assessment Team and is hiring an Emergency Management Planner to more closely coordinate planning efforts with the city.
  • Each of the five regions of the school district has one mobile security unit to support elementary schools.
  • With our close partnership with the Seattle Police Department, we have had joint training with command staff as well as a thorough assessment of school buildings to improve school safety.

Families also play an important role in helping schools remain safe. We need your vigilance to ensure that any safety concern is immediately reported your school administrator or the police. If you or your student see something, please say something. We encourage you to call the school administrator, the district Safe Schools Hotline at 206-252-0510 or if it is an emergency, call 911 immediately.
Here are some suggestions for you to help:

  • Please take a moment to discuss this important issue with your children.
  • Please stay connected and monitor social media activities your children are engaged in. 
  • Familiarize yourself with warning signs provided by the Sandy Hook Promise, which offers programs and support to help protect children from gun violence in homes, schools and communities.
  • Please ensure that if you own a firearm, keep it locked in an approved storage component or locker: This is the law!
  • Please ensure that your children do not have access to firearms while visiting homes of friends or relatives.

Thank you for partnering with us. Safety is everyone's responsibility. By working, talking and listening together – especially with our students – we will continue to keep our school communities safe.

Regards,
Office of Public Affairs

Resources that are helpful in discussing troubling events with children: 
Talking with Children About Tragedy in the News (multiple languages) 
Responding to Tragedy: Resources for Educators and Parents
Talking to Children About Tragedies and Other News Events

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