I’ve received a few emails inquiring about SFUSD security procedures in the wake of the awful events at a Newtown, CT elementary school late last week. Hours after the tragedy, Superintendent Carranza held a joint news conference with Mayor Lee to reassure the public that the city and the school district place strong importance on students’ safety. Today, Superintendent Carranza followed up with this letter to all district personnel:
I know you join me in expressing our collective heartbreak over the tragic loss of precious life at Sandy Hook Elementary this past Friday.
Over the last few difficult days we have been processing the events in Newton, Connecticut with our colleagues, families and students. I have seen so many examples of caring and support across the city.
In addition to grieving, many of us are asking what more we can do to secure our schools. I want to assure you that I am taking this opportunity centrally to review our procedures and plans and I am asking every school site to do the same. From everything we’ve heard, Sandy Hook Elementary appears to be a model school in terms of security — yet still an intruder intent to do harm found a way in. I make this point because research I’ve read, coupled with my own experiences as a site teacher and administrator, have led me to believe that ultimately it’s the decisions we make when faced with a crisis that makes the biggest difference – our decisions can literally save lives.
I believe we are all committed to doing better. We want to keep our children and loved ones safe and we want to make sure nothing like what happened in Connecticut ever happens again. Year round we must familiarize ourselves with and practice the important protocols and procedures to follow during an emergency. All schools have a safety plan that is updated annually and staff should be trained to implement these plans. On a day-to-day basis, we must enforce sign-in procedures and single points of entry at our schools to mitigate harm.
And the most important thing we can do is to stay alert. Though some things cannot be prevented, many of us know first-hand the crises we’ve averted because alert people intervened in time. We must also be willing to use and refer appropriately to health and wellness services those individuals who we feel may be dealing with issues that require additional support.
Thank you for all that you do every day to keep our schools safe and to keep our children engaged in joyful learning. I wish you all peaceful and restful holidays in the company of your loved ones, and a well-deserved break.
With gratitude and respect,
Richard A. Carranza
The letter to all parents that came home from school on Friday from the Mayor, while well-intentioned, was handed to my second-grade daughter, who can read. Although the letter did not go into detail, it provided enough information to prompt questions that I could have easily avoided had this information been communicated differently.