The following letter was distributed to NVUSD families last week in the wake of the school shooting in Florida.
On behalf of the School Board and our staff, we share your shock, anger and concern over the shooting in Florida last week. When children are harmed and innocent teachers, staff and students are endangered, it becomes difficult to bear.
Of course when an event like this happens, we turn our attention to home and we hear your questions about what tools, training and protocols we have in place here at NVUSD to guard against such an event. I’ll share here some brief information and will share at the end of this letter how you can get more information. We appreciate your partnership.
Security of facilities
When voters approved Measure H in 2016, one of our commitments was that a portion of those funds would be used to improve the safety and security of our schools, including perimeter fencing and gates; security cameras; keyless entry systems; and upgraded paging and phone systems. Those upgrades are in the planning stages, and moving forward.
Mental health resources
Our Board has named health, including mental health, as one of their four goals for our students and staff. Counselors, social workers, teachers and administrators check in with students continually, and all of our middle schools, as well as American Canyon High School, have Wellness Centers where students can seek help. We also partner with local agencies and nonprofits for workshops, trainings and other resources for teachers, parents and students.
We encourage a culture of “see something, say something,” and our students do let us know when a peer seems troubled, including using the anonymous Tip411 text and smartphone app.
NVUSD students practice safety drills for fire, earthquake, teacher down and lockdown twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall.
Lockdown protocol (run, hide, fight)
The lockdown protocol is what teachers and students will follow in the event of an active shooter at one of our campuses. In fall 2017, on the advice of our law enforcement partners, we modified our lockdown procedures to include the concepts of training teachers to first consider whether or not it is safe or preferable to run away from the campus before going into classroom lockdown. For example, if a class is outside, it might be better to run off campus than to try to return to a classroom.
If running is not a good option or the teacher can’t be certain, then they are advised to go into lockdown. Finally, if the unthinkable happens and an intruder enters a locked down classroom, teachers and older students are empowered to fight to protect themselves.
Ensuring the safety of our students and teachers will always be our first priority, and we do that in concert with our law enforcement partners.
Once the police have determined the nature of an event, whether it is on one of campuses or not, they will help us communicate with parents and the community.
Please plan on using Nixle (law enforcement) and Blackboard Connect (NVUSD) for information about any events. We will tell you what we know and what you can do. We ask that you share only information that has come from the police or NVUSD to ensure accuracy and keep responders from having to react to misinformation.
I hope this information helps you to understand how we are working to guard against and prepare for violence against our schools, students and staff. To find out more, visit our website at www.nvusd.org and search “student safety.” You’ll find videos, presentations, information on our Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS) program and more.
Our students, staff and families are precious to us. We’ll continue to work with law enforcement and mental health agencies as we do our best to keep our campuses safe for all. Please call us if we can answer questions or be of assistance. With your cooperation, our schools will continue to be caring places for children.
Thank you for your support,
Patrick J. Sweeney, Superintendent