We have all been touched by the tragic events that occurred Friday in Newtown, Conn., where 27 people, including 20 precious little children, were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The shootings have prompted us at Varnett to take another hard look at our own safety and crisis management procedures to leave no doubt that our children are in a safe and secure environment.
President Obama on Sunday delivered a heartfelt, but pointed speech about how we all have to do a better job of protecting our young. We take his message in the wake of the horrific shootings very seriously.
The Varnett Public School has no tolerance for weapons or weapons facsimiles in or on school property. Security personnel control the gates at each campus and staff is not allowed to leave the campus during school hours.
As stated in your Parent Handbook, Varnett requires that any person entering the building during a school day to obtain a visitors pass before going into any part of the school. For the protection of the students and security throughout the district, all visitors are asked to present a driver’s license or a school- approved identification document. We have a management system that electronically checks all visitors against criminal record databases.
In addition, we have security cameras inside and outside each school building to capture any suspicious behavior or activity.
Much has been reported about the brave Sandy Hook teachers and staff who hid the children, escorted them to safety and called 911 during and after the shootings. We have a “Crisis Management Procedures” handbook with a list of crisis team members and their responsibilities in the event of emergencies. The manual contains information about crisis communication procedures, a teacher/custodial checklist in the case of emergencies and key emergency phone numbers in addition to 911.
In the wake of one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history, we will take a hard look at our policies and consider any changes that will heighten student safety. We want you to have peace of mind when it relates to the security of our children.
An elementary school is supposed to be sacred; the utmost symbol of safety. But that belief was shattered Friday. We ask that you join us in praying for the families who lost loved ones and work with us to do whatever is necessary to keep your children free from harm.
-- Dr. M. Annette Cluff, Superintendent