Comments on Texas School Shooting

Comments on Texas School Shooting

Brian Bliss, Superintendent

I have written previously regarding the multiple safety measures in place in Solanco schools.  With the tragedy in Texas yesterday, I want to review details regarding many of Solanco’s safety plans. As we grieve this horrible tragedy, our thoughts turn to our own schools and our own community.

School safety measures continue to evolve, and the Solanco School District continues to refine and enhance its safety measures. We view this as a continuum—always adding safety measures, always improving. Our safety planning and development is an unceasing process.

Good communication with parents and students is essential.

Below is a partial summary of key updates to safety measures currently in place at Solanco:

Architectural Upgrades:  You likely have noticed some facelifts at a number of Solanco schools, each receiving needed building design changes to improve the safety of building entrances. We continue to engage in feasibility studies to enhance our schools from an architectural point of view.

School Camera Systems – Each school building is outfitted with many indoor and outdoor high-definition surveillance cameras.  These cameras are able to view in real-time and also record in high definition for lengthy periods of time.  These cameras are an important safety measure. We continue to add cameras to this system, which is already robust.

School Bus Camera Systems – Solanco recently outfitted our school buses with a high-definition camera system (multiple cameras per bus).

Response Plans/Tools – Solanco continues to revise and enhance its response plans.  These plans involve drills with students, emergency communication systems, and supportive technologies.  We work in cooperation with local first responders on these plans. This includes our All-Hazards Plan.

School Resource Officer – Officer Chris Dilworth of the Quarryville Borough Police is stationed at Solanco High School and travels to all district schools throughout the day.  Officer Dilworth is armed and in uniform when on duty.  His role, which primarily is to build positive relationships with students, is also to audit our buildings and procedures to ensure safe campuses.  

Reporting Mechanisms – A key component of school safety is providing multiple ways for students/parents/community members to inform us of concerns. There are QR codes placed throughout each building that allow for concerns to be expressed through smartphones.  Further, there is a tip line on our website in addition to a number of building-specific methods, such as “Lend-a-Hand “ lockers.

Building-Level Safety Teams – Each school building has a designated safety team that meets regularly.  These safety teams work on safety drills, procedures, potential challenges, and any other concerns.  

District-Level Safety Team – In addition to building-level teams, there is also a district-level safety team that reviews the recommendations of the building-level teams, reviews current laws and regulations, and reviews district-wide initiatives.

RVAT Analysis Report – Solanco recently had the PA State Police “RVAT” Team (which stands for “Risk and Vulnerability Assessment Team”) complete a safety assessment of our buildings. The RVAT Report provides insight and recommendations.  

Threat Assessment Team – Solanco created a “Threat Assessment Team.” The purpose of this team is to engage in the assessment of and intervention with students whose behavior may indicate a threat to the safety of the student, other students, school employees, school facilities, the community or others. This team has undergone specific training in this area. 

Raptor System – Solanco implemented the Raptor Visitor Management System in each school, which requires any visitors to scan their identification (which is then checked against the Sex Offender registry).  This system immediately alerts administrative and security personnel if a visitor is identified as a risk.

Safe Schools Grant Funding – Solanco has repeatedly applied for and received significant grant funds for the improvement of school safety.  Upgrades include increased technology for safety, upgraded response plans/procedures, conflict resolution programs, and alarm system upgrades, among others.

Safety Drills – Solanco engages in many safety drills throughout the year with students. These drills continue to evolve based on current recommendations regarding how to respond to potential threats. Building principals can answer specific questions regarding these drills.

Anti-Bullying/Harassment Program – Solanco continues to implements programs and procedures designed to encourage a safe and bullying-free environment.  While this initiative started with the Solanco Expectations in 2012, it has been continually expanded and enhanced each year.  For more information, check out Solanco’s webpage section on “Dignity & Belonging.”

Summary

This is not an exhaustive list of indicatives regarding safety.  We recognize that you place enormous trust in us as educators.  Parents in the community send their children to us, under our care, every day.  In the best of circumstances, parents are likely anxious.  But with all of the violence we are seeing in schools across the country (and the violence in public places not including schools), that level of anxiousness increases significantly.  

As a district we focus on inspiring students, and we want students to know they are cared for. Notably, a large number of our employees, from support staff to teachers, live in the Solanco Community, many of them parents who send their children to schools.  All of the adults who work with your children are invested in their well-being, and this is an essential ingredient for a safe school environment. 

As always, thank you for your support. 

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