Superintendent Rob Stein: February 2018
Dear Parents and Community Members,
We are all deeply saddened by the senseless loss of life in a Florida high school last week. The day after the school shooting, we heard from several concerned students, staff, and parents who wanted to be reassured and to understand what the Roaring Fork Schools are doing to keep our schools safe. We want you to know that safety is our top priority and that we are taking many steps to ensure student health and safety.
The Roaring Fork Schools recently installed security vestibules in all of our schools. We tightened security protocols and electronic monitoring to prevent unwanted visitors from entering. We conduct drills to teach our students what to do in case a threatening actor enters the school. We are training staff to watch for warning signs and to know when to report concerning behavior. Students are encouraged to use Safe 2 Tell to anonymously report anything concerning or threatening. We also use an automated service that flags concerning phrases and words used on school computers. We have counselors and others in all of our schools who are trained to respond to warning signs of violence.
We are taking a proactive approach to safety. One of the purposes of our crew program is that all students will have at least one trusting adult who is monitoring their wellbeing and helping them to self-monitor and seek help when needed. We offer crew lessons in violence prevention, suicide prevention, and nonviolent conflict resolution. We regularly survey our students to find out how safe they feel in school and make changes when they tell us they feel unsafe.
We are working aggressively to increase mental health services for students. Thanks to community partnerships with local mental health providers, we now have a full-time, dedicated mental health professional and a full-time prevention specialist in each of our communities -- all resources that were not in place a few years ago, but none of them with guaranteed funding into the future.
Local police departments are generously providing a full-time School Resource Officer in each community. These SROs are more than more than law enforcement officers: they are trusted friends and counselors and early interventionists for many of our students and families.
We will continue our efforts to keep our schools safe. That said, there have been too many senseless deaths due to gun violence, and it is understandable for people to feel anxious. I am inspired by the response to the student survivors in Florida who are taking a stand against school violence, and I hope that adults in our communities will follow their lead.
Here are several resources for parents on talking to students about school violence:
- Roaring Fork Schools’ Emergency and Crisis Information Guide for Parents
- Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers from the National Association of School Psychologists
- School Safety Center: Supporting Students After School Shootings