The violent events at Oxford High School yesterday are the worst scenario any parent, student, or educator can imagine. Our hearts are aching for everyone in the Oxford community today. When these tragedies occur, we are grateful that our children went home safe and sound to their families at the end of the day. These events also lead me to wonder what else can we do to prepare to keep our children safe every day? I consider student safety to be my most critical aspect of my role as Superintendent.
I want to assure you, we work steadily to prepare our students and staff to be as responsive and safe as we can, while also working to keep an open and welcoming school environment for our families and students. I want to reassure you of the things we do to prepare and hopefully prevent tragedy from coming to our schools.
- We have a full counseling staff in every building to ensure kids always have someone to talk with in addition to their teachers if they need a caring ear.
- We have the Ok2Say app on our website for anyone in the community to report any strange or unusual concerns they may be aware of which helps our team to be responsive.
- We have small class sizes which help us to know our kids and develop strong relationships with them so we can see when they are stressed or concerned about things.
- We utilize a threat assessment tool if we are concerned about any potential for volatility in a child that includes consultations and close work with the parents of that student.
- We have a crisis response plan in place when our students experience any traumas or losses outside of school which allows us to quickly meet their needs and support them when they are in school.
- We work in conjunction with our county health departments for mental health care for students who need that level of care.
- We have an excellent community support system with Restore the Roar who just today made 400 signs to post on our Jr./Sr. HS lockers reminding our students that they mean the world to us.
- We practice drills for emergency situations in every building which helps everyone know what to do quickly should the need arise.
- We have 2 School Resource Officers who work with us regularly on our drills and response planning.
- We have procedures and contact information for readiness in case of any emergency as well which is updated and maintained for ready response information.
Oxford Schools had these same supports as well which likely helped to prevent the tragedy from being much greater than it already was. However, any life lost or shattered is one too many, so we will continue to be vigilant and focus energy, attention, and resources on prevention as the best way to protect our community from tragedy. As a community we do that together by ensuring our family systems are strong, tuned in to our kids needs, and responsive with resources when our kids need them. Thank you for working with us to ensure every child is seen, heard, and loved.