Local schools vow to keep students safe

The recent school shooting in Parkland, Fla., has made student safety a major concern nationwide. In the wake of the massacre, local school officials are reinforcing emergency response preparedness and procedures.

Los Altos School District Superintendent Jeff Baier sent an email to district parents assuring them that “safety is our top priority.”

According to Baier, the district regularly works with local police and fire departments to prepare for emergencies and run students and staff through safety drills.

“We vigilantly evaluate visitors to all of our campuses,” Baier said in his email. “In January, our administrators met with our three law enforcement agencies to review and update our ‘active shooter’ procedures. This was an effort of all our local school districts and law enforcement agencies to ensure we have consistency in order to prioritize student and staff safety.”

Baier said drills on district campuses have been taking place during the school year and will continue through the spring.

He also offered tips from the National Association of School Psychologists detailing how parents could reassure their children that they are safe. He reminded parents that the approach must be developmentally appropriate.

Children in early elementary school grades need brief, simple information balanced with reassurances that school and home are safe, Baier said, while upper elementary and early middle school children will be vocal in asking questions, and parents should discuss safety measures with them.

In terms of student safety, Los Altos and Mountain View high schools have security on campus and maintain a partnership with local law enforcement, both on a regular basis and in the event of an emergency, according to Cynthia Greaves, communications manager for the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District.

“Our teachers and staff are trained in emergency protocols, including lockdowns and responding to campus intruders,” she said. “For students facing a crisis, we make resources easy to find.”

Greaves noted that each MVLA school’s website prominently features a Student Crisis Services “Need Help?” button, enabling students to self-refer or anonymously refer a friend in crisis.

“Our wellness team is always at the ready to respond to emergent cases,” she said. “We have also provided students with a wallet-sized resource card to make finding needed support services easier. Student safety is fostered in our school climate.”

Pinewood School has made sure that emergency response procedures are in place on its campuses in Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.

Pinewood President Scott Riches said the school reviews safety policies and procedures multiple times each year, while also cultivating relationships with local fire departments and law enforcement agencies.

“We conduct regular drills with our faculty and students during the course of the school year that include fire, earthquake, shelter-in-place and lockdown procedures,” he said. “We don’t publicly disclose our lockdown procedures for obvious reasons, but all of our faculty, staff and students know what to do in this particular situation.”

Riches noted that law enforcement and national security experts have reviewed Pinewood’s emergency response procedures.

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