Superintendent's Safety Message - Feb 28, 2018

  • Dear West Linn-Wilsonville Community,

    Recent tragic events continue to shake the nation prompting families to want more information about how our schools are ensuring the safety of their students and staff. As your Superintendent, and a parent myself, I want you to know how important the safety and security of our children is, and attending to this is one of my highest priorities. I'm right there with every parent and every educator who wants our schools to be safe learning environments for our children. We work hard to balance a welcoming environment with a safe and secure school climate.

    As school safety is a broad and comprehensive topic, my message is a review of our emergency procedures with additional information about our safety processes, plans and actions. There are embedded links and a district Safety/Security website for you to access more details.

    Emergency Procedures

    We have a strong partnership with Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, the Wilsonville and West Linn Police Departments and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue (TVF&R), meeting bi-annually to review safety procedures, emergency responses and any new initiatives between our various agencies. Our school district has two School Resource Officers (SROs), one in West Linn and one in Wilsonville, who check in with all schools on a regular basis. Our SROs, local law enforcement and district administrators work together to implement the Standard Response Protocols (Lock Down, Lock Out, Evacuation, Shelter) and a Crisis Management Plan that help our children and staff apply consistent procedures during any one of these emergency situations. These drills are planned and taught regularly; district staff monitors the effectiveness after every drill. The Standard Response Protocols conform to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) guidelines, have been scrutinized by hundreds of law enforcement agencies since 2009, and are adopted by districts, departments and agencies across the US and Canada.

    3-Tiered Safety Review Process

    Our district utilizes a 3-Tiered Process for reviewing, revising, and implementing district-wide safety and security systems. Tier I: A District Safety Committee meets monthly to determine safety needs and actions at the school building level. Tier 2: I personally lead the District Safety Leadership Team (DSLT) which also meets monthly to review safety policies and actions as well as determine safety priorities for implementation across the district. The DSLT also provides updates bi-annually to the School Board. Tier 3: The district contracts with Elert & Associates, a national safety consultant, who is available to provide on-site review and advice to our administration and School Board regarding the district's safety and security measures. In 2015-2016, Elert & Associates conducted a full Hazard Assessment, visiting every school building and interacting with every school leadership team.

    If you have a safety suggestion: you are welcome to submit it to the District Safety Committee and the suggestion will be processed at one or all levels of the 3-Tiers. Like you, every time an event like Parkland occurs, our School Board, administrators and staff reflect on the safety measures and procedures we have in place and what we can learn.

    Safety Regulations, Measures and Processes Across the District

    The District diligently complies with federal and state safety regulations, updating and upgrading safety measures and processes across these main areas:

    • Student Support Systems – includes Emergency Medical Response Teams, Student Threat Assessment Systems, Suicide Assessment & Prevention, SafeOregon TipLine, School Counseling Program, School Nurses.
    • Emergency Preparedness & Response - includes Emergency Response Roles, Actions and Procedures, Site Guidelines and Training.
    • Environmental Safety & Health - includes Oregon OSHA compliance with Hazardous Materials, Asbestos Management, Pest Management, Prevention of Accidents due to known Health Hazards, Nutrition Services, Staff Trainings.
    • Digital Safety – includes Data Security and Confidentiality, Digital Citizenship, Common Sense Media.
    • Operational Safety - includes Facility Inspections, Transportation, Equipment Certification and Staff Safety Training.

    Recent Safety Actions

    The 2014 Bond specifically allocated funds for safety upgrades and building design components selected for security purposes across the district and in a number of schools. These projects are outlined on the district website: 2014 Bond Projects.

    In addition to these projects, in the last two years the district has:

    • Implemented a volunteer HelpCounter program as a way to monitor and track regular and guest visitors in our schools.
    • Enrolled all 16 schools in the SafeOregon TipLine where students, parents and community members can report concerns about safety or individuals who may need help.
    • Completed a District Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) in consultation with Elert & Associates. The District EOP is an all-hazards plan that describes how the District will organize and respond to emergencies and disasters. The EOP provides guidelines for preventing, protecting, mitigating, responding to, and recovering from emergencies or disasters. The EOP outlines emergency management organization and assigns responsibilities for emergency response functions. The plan is compliant with the National Incident Management System (NIMS).
    • Approved plans for installing video cameras at all 16 schools to begin this spring.
    • Purchased and implementing this spring a robust emergency radio system that provides reliable communication at-and-between all school sites and the administration building.
    • Initiated and in the process of conducting a formal review of our Student Transportation services to improve safe and effective daily transport of our students.
    • Hired two additional full-time Nurses and one full-time Mental Health Professional.
    • Hired a full-time Communications Director to provide reliable messages and communication for the district and patrons.
    • I encourage you to visit the Safety/Security link on our website to become more familiar with the district safety measures and actions.

    How Can Parents Help Their Children

    As much as we proactively train and plan for emergency situations, tragedies in schools and community spaces are certainly difficult to understand and explain. We know these events may trigger emotional responses for our students and we will do all we can to support them. Knowing what to say to children can be challenging; talking things over openly and in an age-appropriate manner is important.

    Here is a resource parents may find helpful: http://centerforparentingeducation.org/library-of-articles/healthy-communication/when-disaster-strikes-talking-to-children-about-traumatic-events/

    As always, if you have questions or comments please feel free to reach out to your school principal or to the district office, 503-673-7034.

    Sincerely,
    Kathy Ludwig, Superintendent