Last month, The Durango Herald reported on upgrades to the safety and security practices within the district.
It can be disconcerting to recognize that the challenges of society are not kept outside of Durango and La Plata County. Ignoring that fact doesn’t make it not true. We’ve taken appropriate actions to be responsible for our students while they are in our care.
When we think about the school incidents that have happened across the country, many are in small-town America and all of those communities have shared the thought: “Surely, not here!” We are fortunate that we live in a safe community, but safety measures are taken to act responsibly – not to create fear.
Many people take precautions in our community through locking their cars, putting locks on garages, locking their homes at night, etc. While I recognize not all do, I think it’s safe to say that many do. Yet, our elementary school doors that are not monitored have remained wide open despite the most precious contents – our children. How we share information with our students will certainly cause them to react in certain ways. If we emphasize that safety takes precautions, it should no more alarm a child than locking the door of our home at night.
As shared in the past article, our buildings were all built in a time when no one would ever think that a school would be the site of violence. Many of the buildings have no staff view of the front doors, and some allow access to hallways where children are, even before passing by an office. The securing of our front doors ensures that the public is always greeted by staff members and that they are aware of the presence of someone other than staff members and students in our buildings. This system doesn’t prevent access to our schools by parents, and a moment or two of inconvenience is well worth the safety of our children.
At the middle and high schools, we have security personnel who have undergone additional training this summer to help them be well prepared to observe and monitor our campuses. The front door at the high school is monitored by one of these staff members to ensure that all visitors are properly identified and checked in. We also are increasing our presence in areas surrounding our schools to ensure that we maintain safe environments in and around our buildings.
What may not be known is the number of protection orders and custodial issues that exist within our community. Our school personnel take such matters very seriously and do their best to ensure that children are protected in all situations. Having controlled access prevents an individual from gaining access to our students who may have no right or authorization to do so.
None of these precautions are meant to create alarm but to ensure confidence in the safety of our students entrusted to our care. Remember, our school buildings hold our most treasured resource – our children! As always, I am open to hearing your questions or feedback on school safety or community-related topics.
Email Durango School District 9-R Superintendent Dan Snowberger at DSnowberger@durango.k12.co.us.