Superintendent's Message - School Safety Reminders

school safety words with check mark

School will be starting shortly and I wanted to take this time to talk about some components of how we keep our students/your children safe when they are in our care.

First, school design. Our new buildings were designed with safety in mind. The Pendleton School District collaborated with our local police department and safety specialist to ensure we designed and built safe schools. At all sites, we attempt to limit the access points for those visiting our campus. We accomplish this by keeping most perimeter doors locked and requiring visitors to enter through a single entry point. For our older buildings, this can be a challenge. As parents, you can help us by reinforcing with your children that locked doors are serving a purpose and most of the time it is focused on safety. Propping doors open for convenience works against our safety and security efforts.

Second, all buildings have security cameras. Even though we do not have the staff capacity to monitor consistently during the day, it does provide broadened visibility if needed of our blind spots on campuses. During an emergency event, cameras are invaluable for identifying potentially dangerous situations or threats to our students and staff.

Third, by law, we are to teach and conduct safety procedures for a variety of scenarios. I have included a link to a one-page document that provides parents with information on what students and staff will be doing in the event of four common scenarios: 1) Lockout, 2) Lockdown, 3) Building Evacuation, and 4) Shelter. The Pendleton School District in conjunction with the Pendleton Police Department, Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office, and the Oregon State Police have developed response protocols in the event of a serious event and coordinated with neighboring counties so that we (schools and law enforcement) all use the same language and protocols. We believe this approach is best in protecting our students and staff from a catastrophic event.

Finally, in the event we are faced with such an event, I ask that all parents review the following Do’s and Don’ts.

Do:

  1. Remain as calm as you can.
  2. Review the Standard Response Protocol terms.
  3. Check the following: (Don’t wait for a phone call)
    1. District Website
    2. School Website
    3. District Facebook Page
    4. Local Media Outlets (East Oregonian, KUMA & KWHT)

We will provide updates as the event unfolds. Updates will occur when there is new information to share or the event is over.

Don’t:

  1. Drive to the scene of the event – in a Lockdown, you will not be allowed to enter the premises until after the event has been given the “all clear” by law enforcement. In addition, driving into the danger can only complicate the event.
  2. Call law enforcement or the school during the event. Those answering the phones may not have any more information than you have nor will they have authority to make decisions that you may be requesting.

As a parent of four and grandparent of eight, I can appreciate the emotions we have for our children’s safety. However, during a serious event, law enforcement and school officials are focused on eliminating the threat and protecting our children. When our attention is drawn away from that purpose to answer phones or re-direct well-meaning parents, we can’t do our jobs.

I ask for your help in the event of a serious threat -- stay away from the premises until directed. Instead, stay tuned to our website, Facebook or local media and once cleared, follow the directions in an orderly manner.

Thank you.

Chris Fritsch
Superintendent

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