- Watkins Elementary School
Safety Message from the Superintendent - May 25, 2022
Dear CCS Families, Teachers, and Staff,
I am deeply saddened and grief-stricken over yet another senseless act of school violence and the tragic loss of lives in Uvalde, Texas, yesterday. My heart goes out to those families, teachers, staff, students, and the Uvalde community.
This tragedy once again brings to light how critical it is to focus on the safety of our school buildings here in our own community. The safety of our Columbus City Schools students, teachers, and staff remains our top priority.
Our Safety and Security team, in partnership with school and district leaders, is dedicated to creating a safe environment for all students to learn and all teachers and staff to work. We continue to implement and follow a number of operational guidelines that are aligned to national researched best practices. Below are some of the safety measures in place at our schools:
Additional Safety and Security Staff - We have invested in our internal Safety and Security team over the past three years, including the hiring of additional trusted and well-qualified Safety and Security Specialists throughout this school year. We have a goal of hiring 35 more Specialists for the start of the 2022-2023 school year to bolster our team even further.
Partnership With Law Enforcement - We continue to have a strong relationship with the Columbus Police Department, and we appreciate their partnership in keeping our schools safe. Our Safety and Security works closely with CPD when issues arise that require the presence of law enforcement.
Emergency Operation Procedures - Working with law enforcement agencies and first responders, we have developed and continue to revise, implement, and regularly practice emergency operation procedures. Due to safety concerns, the details of these plans are not openly shared to protect our students, teachers, staff, and everyone involved.
Check-In Procedures - We recently upgraded our visitor management system in our school buildings so that each visitor must sign in and present a form of identification that is scanned and checked against a national database before entry is permitted.
Metal Detector Wand Screenings - We updated our security protocols for athletic and extracurricular events last fall, screening guests with metal detector wands as they entered venues. The feedback on these enhanced safety measures was positive, and we expanded this practice to the school day in the Spring with metal detector wand screenings at randomly selected high school buildings each day. When a school building is randomly selected, all students in that building undergo a metal detector screening upon entry.
See Something, Say Something Hotline - One of our school’s most significant safety resources is the strong relationships among our students, families, staff, and safety teams. I encourage anyone – students, family members, teachers, or staff – that if they “See Something, Say Something.” Anyone connected to Columbus City Schools can call or text our 24-hour anonymous Safer Together hotline at 844-SAFER-OH.
Mental Health Support - Our school counselors, social workers, psychologists, other support staff, and community partners work diligently to assess and assist struggling students with mental health and social emotional needs with a focus on the whole child.
We know that despite all of the procedures and plans we have in place, relationships matter most. That is why our parents and caregivers are so important to ensure our schools are safe havens for all students and are conducive to teaching and learning. Columbus City Schools values our partnership with the families we serve, as we strive to make a difference in the lives of our community’s children.
Here are just a few ways that parents and caregivers can support their students at home:
- Talk to your child often and ask questions about school, their activities, and their friends.
- Monitor your child’s social media activity, text messages, and other activities.
- Remind them safety is everyone’s responsibility, if they see something, say something to a trusted adult.
- Threats are serious and are always handled as such. Remind them not to joke around about any type of school safety issue.
- Take action if something does not seem right. Contact your child’s principal or teacher, call the police, or use the Safer Together hotline (844-SAFER-OH).
I feel fortunate to lead our school district, and I take seriously my role in creating safe school environments for all students, teachers, and staff. I appreciate and thank everyone in our district community for their partnership in this important endeavor. Let us all remain vigilant over these last days of the school year so that we can finish strongly and safely.
Superintendent/CEO, Columbus City Schools