School Facility Safety

-The Superintendent’s Corner-

In addition to my article a couple of weeks ago, once again I would like to reference school safety and state expectations of local school systems.  Based on correspondence out of the Governor’s Office, please be assured that everyone is working to remedy issues brought forward concerning safety issues in our district.  Locally, we have been getting information on individual school concerns and have addressed these issues during school board meetings and also administrator meetings. The State Board of Education is in the process of reexamining their safety based administrative rules and compliance procedures.

State Rule R277-400 requires that each district establish an emergency response plan to prevent and respond to violence on school grounds, in school vehicles, and in connection with school-related activities or events. These plans must include prevention strategies, along with intervention, and response procedures.  I know the sheriff and others in law enforcement are eager to work with the district to make sure we are all working together to place student safety at the highest priority.

In the past, you and your children should have been participants in emergency drills held at school.  We routinely have fire drills or earthquake drills. Back in the 60’s it was not uncommon to have procedures to deal with the cold war and atomic weapons.  It is sad, but today we are forced to deal with the newest safety concern, an active shooter.  

In Utah, teachers and administrators are allowed to have concealed weapons in their possession at school as long as they meet the requirements outlined in state code. There is no requirement that administrators ask their teachers whether or not they are permit holders and/or whether they carry within the schools.  It would never be the district’s mandate to force employees to carry a firearm; however, the current law allows them to provide for their own safety. Coordination with local law enforcement could hopefully build an acceptable safety plan at all schools concerning active shooter issues and the role school employees would play.

Another requirement for LEAs is to provide annual training for district and school building staff on employees’ roles, responsibilities, and priorities in the emergency response plan.  Garfield County School District participates in continued training via an online training system called Safe Schools. Effective immediately, all district personnel will be assigned an additional component of Active Shooter training.  As we work together to continue to provide a safe haven for learning to take place in Garfield County, we want everyone to look to our schools as that safe place to be.

Tracy Davis, Superintendent – Garfield County School District