The tragic shooting events of last December have left small communities throughout the nation asking “Could it happen here?” Like most school districts across thnNation, North Wasco County School District has spent time in the last several months reviewing safety protocols and working with community partners to ensure that we are doing everything possible to keep children and families in our communities safe.
What we have found is that we already have a lot going for us. Our strong partnerships with local law enforcement, mental health, human services, juvenile justice and many other youth serving organizations provide a solid safety net for prevention and intervention of risky behaviors. The response time of local law enforcement to school related emergencies has been outstanding to say the least. Over the past several weeks school district and law enforcement officials have met to review protocols and have made some small improvements to what is already a very successful set of procedures.
In previous years, local law enforcement agencies have conducted active shooter drills inside of school district facilities in our community. They will be updating and refreshing this training in the next few weeks.
North Wasco County School District is currently in the 5th year of implementation of a federal Safe Schools Healthy Students grant that has improved access to student mental health services, improved students’ perceptions of safety at school, and improved surveillance systems at the secondary level. Through the Safe Schools Healthy Students Initiative community partners have also begun what we are calling the “Sanctuary Movement.” This is a collaboration of organizations joining together to develop a more common approach to the services we provide. Through the Sanctuary Movement we will develop a more common language, shared values, and joint problem solving tools. This will improve communication among organizations and result in more positive outcomes for youth and families in our communities.
While we can’t promise that crisis situations will not happen here, we can say that together we are doing everything we can to promote safety, health and well-being in our schools and communities.