In the wake of the tragic school shooting in Florida this week, I am writing to assure you that the safety of your children and school staff is our number one priority and something that we work at constantly. While we cannot detail all aspects of our security plans, I do want to take a few minutes and remind you about what is in place and provide you with some information about our ongoing efforts.
Training and Protocols
We review security protocols with staff throughout the year and, as you know, practice responses to a variety of different situations with our students. We have comprehensive building- and district-level Safety Plans and an active district Safety Committee. This committee includes district administrators, police and fire officials, operational staff, and teachers.
We utilize the intercom/”buzz in” procedures in our buildings, and continue to review where, and when, building access should be more restricted. We had already planned for this to be a key agenda item for the Safety Committee in the coming months. As part of the committee’s ongoing work, we will also be identifying additional training and/or exercises that can enhance our emergency preparedness.
We are also in the process of a significant upgrade to our security camera system, resulting in improved capabilities across all district schools.
Strong Relationship with Police
We have a strong working relationship with the Niskayuna Police and do not hesitate to call law enforcement to our schools as needed. Police are regularly in our buildings for specific issues and events and we regularly seek law enforcement guidance in how we can be proactive and provide staff with the most up-to-date training.
It is also important to emphasize that our students and families are a critical part of keeping our schools safe. We encourage students to talk to an adult at school whenever they have a concern or notice something that does not seem right, and we ask all of you to do the same.
Additionally, a district Environment and Culture Advisory Council (ECAC) – comprised of a cross-section of our community – is working to address issues that range from student stress and anxiety to making sure all members of our school community feel safe and included. Supporting student health and well-being is a key element in creating the kind of learning environment we all want for our children.
Finally, the events of this week are troubling for all of us, including our children. If children are worried about something that happens or what they see on the news, they often look to adults for guidance. I would like to share an article from the Capital Region BOCES publication Parent Today, “When the News Gets Scary,” that may be helpful in having conversations and navigating times like these with your children. Our staff members can also provide support.
Thank you for your attention to this information, and I wish your family a peaceful and enjoyable February recess. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or another school administrator if we can help in any way.
Cosimo Tangorra, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools