It is soul sucking to address something as senseless as a school shooting. To offer prayers feels like a platitude with little hope of change, and yet I offer prayers of healing to the families of all impacted by this heinous act.
We recognize how deeply unsettling it is for parents to question the safety of their children when they are out of sight. I want to assure you, we continue to make the safety of students and staff the number one priority in our district. Please allow me to address that more specifically below.
Nario, our school custodian during the day, will check all exterior gates to ensure they are locked at 8:30 each morning. This includes: Palm Avenue, Felton Street, Redwood Avenue and the two gates nearest the Yoga statue.
The double gate to the back parking lot (Redwood) will be secured during COVID testing each Wednesday from 8:30 until testing concludes. The back parking lot interior gate (closest to Ms. Tennies PE bungalow) will be locked at all times (staff will unlock and lock when they enter/exit campus).
Many of our families have not been on site during COVID restrictions and may not know we currently have a security system in place. A camera is installed as you approach the south entrance to the Library and a monitor is in the front office. Our front office staff uses the monitor to ensure only “authorized” individuals (late students, ancillary staff, etc) are able to access the interior of our campus.
INCREASED SITE SECURITY
Ironically (in the saddest sense of that word), our Office Manager, Custodian and I had a meeting with a District Senior Project Manager and team Monday morning. They provided an overview of a district project which will result in increased security on our campus. Installation occurs over the summer.
The new Emergency Communications System (ECS) will deploy additional tools for our staff to use in the event of an emergency including, but not limited to:
- Exterior speakers which will enable communication across the campus
- Each classroom will have new speakers that reflect both text (much like the marquee) and sound
- Emergency Notifications for all classrooms, office, etc
- All staff (SDUSD employees, Character Builders, Prime Time, etc) will install an app which will allow any individual to activate an alarm in the event of an emergency
- In the event of an emergency, all staff will be able to electronically report classroom counts to the office simultaneously (vs office calling each individual class setting as we would in the past)
In addition to the ECS system, McKinley is also scheduled for a significant summer security update of our school entrance (the double doors into the front office). Cameras will be installed on the exterior of our campus and all individuals will need to be “buzzed in” after verifying their identity via an exterior camera. Additional walls will be added on the immediate interior as well to preclude access to the interior of our campus.
Dr. Lamont Jackson, our new Superintendent, sent a message to families earlier today. I want to echo what he offered with respect to what you might offer your child(ren). He wrote, “The APA recommends honesty with children – acknowledging that bad things do happen but reassuring them with the information that many people are working to keep them safe.”
There is an additional link that I’ve found to be quite helpful when assessing how to best address “scary stuff” in a developmentally appropriate manner:
For those in our school community who might need additional support at this moment, I want to encourage you to reach out to our site counselor, Heather Nauton (email@example.com) who is on site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Heather is an outstanding professional who is here to work with students who may need assistance at this time.
Thank you for your support during this difficult time. McKinley stands with you in caring for our school community.