Upper Arlington News

Guest column

In UA schools, student safety is our No. 1 priority

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Our community's and nation's schools should be the safest, warmest and most welcoming havens in our society.

And statistically, on any given day, they are the safe and welcoming shelters of teaching and learning that we want them to be and that they should be.

However, when a tragedy such as what transpired in Newtown, Conn., occurs, it shakes us to our core and causes us to ask the unanswerable questions of, "Why?" and, "Could it happen here?"

The safety and security of our students, staff and visitors to our school buildings and facilities have always been our primary concern. This concern starts at the highest level, with our elected Board of Education members and filters down through our administrative team to each and every employee.

The district has a crisis plan that is reviewed, minimally on an annual basis, and more frequently when necessary. Each building's plan is filed with and reviewed by the Attorney General of the State of Ohio.

We have first-responders in the safety forces conduct reviews and threat assessments in our buildings. Our staff and students engage in mandated evacuation and lock-down drills.

Each building has a team of staff members who have received crisis training. Our counselors are well trained in communicating with students, staff and community members in a time of crisis.

We are also fortunate that we live in a community that has many well-meaning and well-trained professionals and volunteers to assist our district, our students, our staff and parents in a time of need.

The leader of our district's safety initiatives is Chris Potts, executive director of Business Services. Please know that the Board of Education and all members of the district's leadership team stand ready to discuss these issues with interested citizens and take the necessary steps to ensure a safe environment for all who enter our facilities and grounds.

As we move forward, please know that the Upper Arlington City Schools will continue to place the safety and security of our students as our No. 1 priority.

As we enter a break in schooling and begin the holiday season, our hearts and thoughts go out to those in Newtown.

Let us hold our own children near and tell them we love them, and reassure them that the adults in their lives are doing all in our power to protect them and that our schools are the warm, safe and inviting environments that we desire.

Jeffrey W. Weaver is superintendent of the Upper Arlington City School District.

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