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From the Principal...
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 1:40 PM

patrick_17.jpg

Dear families,
As I'm sure you are aware, there was a school shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut on Friday, December 13th. Our thoughts and hearts go out to the victims and their families.

In times like this, it is tempting to fall into a reactive state where we visibly heighten security in an effort to make students feel more secure. Often, this attention can actually make students feel less secure. This week, our classroom business continued as usual. Our staff continued with their typical caring and nurturing work with students, and will monitor student needs throughout the week.

Here are some other points you should know about school safety at Barton:

  • Barton has consistent procedures for responding to emergency incidents. We have practiced drills and had a successful Lockdown drill a few weeks ago that demonstrated strong staff and student competence with the procedures.
  • We work with the Minneapolis Police Department and other school districts across Minnesota and nationwide to implement and share best practices. Just last Friday, I met with our school's police liaison to do an assessment of our exterior security and review procedures. I have had similar discussions with the Minneapolis fire department and administration from other schools.
  • Last week, we held a meeting for all playground supervisors, bus and traffic helpers, clerical staff, and support staff to review communica- tion with our two-way radios (walkie-talkies). This helps us communicate efficiently and effectively throughout our building and grounds.
  • Minneapolis Public Schools has consistent district-wide procedures in place at each school to ensure that our staff members are prepared to handle crisis situations and provide students with support. Our staff members are trained in our procedures. Students participate in emergency drills at least five times a year and are familiar with what to do in the event of a crisis.
  • We continually work to ensure our preparedness. In January, we will participate in an upcoming citywide preparedness drill along with our city partners and agencies. This has been planned for months.

Our building management team meets each Friday to discuss the management of Barton, including emergency procedures, school safety, and security. Over the past few weeks, our team has discussed ways to increase safety and security measures which have included, but are not limited to, exterior door and parking lot safety, parent pick-up, transportation, procedures for bus passes and field trips and our staff-to staff communication. For the past two months we have spent time in this meeting reviewing procedures and looking at ways to best communicate some of these changes to the community.

Our plan has been, and will continue to be, to roll out some of these changes after winter break. This includes things that may decrease the convenient access that some of our families have had to our building by limiting entrance areas to the building and by insisting on consistent use of check-ins and visitor passes, even for those families that are recognizable and have been a part of our school community for years. School safety must be a top priority.

The events in Connecticut are an incredibly tragic occurrence, and our thoughts are with those who are most affected. I hope you have time for extra hugs and fun times with your children in the days ahead during this busy season.

Sincerely,

Patrick