With the recent tragedy in Florida involving a school shooting, I find it appropriate to update our patrons about our ongoing efforts to upgrade and improve security in Thermopolis schools. I am going to do my very best to put the discussion in layman’s terms because many of you may have never heard some of the terms associated with school security. Because there are so many “what ifs” with school security, the District will be examining all aspects of school safety, but school security and safety drills will be our focus for the time being.
The District has been working with the state to gain additional funding to improve security for five years now. After much negotiation, the state has agreed to allow HSCSD #1 to utilize some of our major maintenance funds for such projects.
The current school security project is to restructure the front entrance to each building so that during the school day, all visitors must enter and be “buzzed” in through the front entrance only. This entry system will allow school staff more control over who is in the school buildings during the school day. For activities or events held outside of the regular school day, the doors will be open. The experience will be similar to drive through banking communication with the exception of a screen and not a window. Our maintenance and technology departments have been working together to complete these projects with a tentative completion timeframe of this spring. We will be holding staff and student training as well as sharing additional communication to the community once the installation and construction are complete.
Our education teams rely heavily on collaboration to increase our student and staff academic success. This collaboration rolls into other aspects of the school district, including security and safety. Because we realize that security and safety issues are in constant change, the district will be relying on outside experts to conduct school security/safety audits of the entire school district very soon. We recently had a visit to each building to discuss safety plans and best practices in the event of a tornado from weather/crisis expert Tim Troutman. Expert advice is crucial to improving safety.
HSCSD #1 has received training on multiple occasions in regard to active shooter/intruder. The training is referred to as ALICE training (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) and is some of the newest training available to organizations. The District also has four certified ALICE trainers in-district at this time. This national training has been created after studying past active shooter situations, and now makes up part of the many safety drills performed by the District. I would encourage parents to visit the ALICE training website if they have questions. https://www.alicetraining.com
It is important to realize that no security plan, hardware, policy, drill, or practice will 100% prevent all tragedies, but HSCSD #1 is committed to being as prepared as possible. If ever a parent or student has concerns, please feel free to contact the building principals, or any other member of the school administration. It is district policy that all threats or dangers are considered serious and will be investigated. Please encourage your students to tell a staff member if they have concerns. The state of Wyoming also provides the Safe 2 Tell option if students are concerned about remaining anonymous. The number is 1-844-WYO-SAFE and the website is http://safe2tellwy.org.
To close, parents will receive notification and an invitation via the electronic message system from the school inviting them in the coming weeks to a forum at the auditorium to answer any questions, or address any concerns that they may have in regard to school security. Thank you for your partnership to keep our children safe at school.