One of the most important responsibilities we have as a school district is the safety and security of our students.
We recognize the trust parents give us in sending their children to our schools each day, and we take that very seriously. We are fortunate to have strong partners in our local law enforcement and fire-rescue agencies. During the past three months, our partners have worked closely as we have intensified our efforts to ensure our preparedness in the event of a crisis.
Under the leadership of Durango Police Chief Jim Spratlen, planning and practice sessions have included representation from the Durango Police Department, La Plata County Sheriff’s Office, Durango Fire Protection District, Colorado State Patrol, Fort Lewis College law enforcement, Ignacio Police Department, the Bayfield Marshal’s Office, state agencies and local representatives from the FBI. All of these agencies should be commended for their partnership and commitment to supporting our community and our schools.
What we know is that in the event of a crisis, we will have no shortage of support, regardless of the school impacted. As part of our efforts to strengthen our preparedness, law enforcement, fire rescue and school district leaders have recently received briefings right here in Durango from people who have experienced some of the most tragic events around the country, ensuring that we learn from their experiences.
Whether a threat is within or outside of our schools, cooperation from our parents and community will be crucial. Currently, our district is planning the reunification process. We may be required to evacuate a campus for the safety of our students and staff requiring that we plan for how we will safely reunify children with parents or authorized people.
We clearly know the first instinct on the part of a parent is to rush to a school site if danger is suspected. Doing so will place that person in potential danger and create an impediment for those who need to address the danger – namely police, fire and rescue teams.
In the event of a crisis or dangerous situation, these steps will be taken:
The district will notify all parents of the school impacted by phone, text and email. Additional messages will be sent based on updates until the situation is resolved.
If an evacuation occurs, parents will be notified through that same system of the location students will be transported to and the time students will be available for pick up.
Upon arrival at the evacuation location, parents or authorized adults will be asked to fill out a reunification form, which will include information to identify both them and the child. Official government-issued identification will be required.
Upon verification, the child will be released to authorized people only.
Reunification will require patience as it is our responsibility to ensure each student is released safely to an authorized person. It is critical parents keep all information updated through their school office. It also is important to know that our staff members will maintain the safety of your child and ensure support until reunification can occur.
While we hope and expect no such crisis will occur, knowing we are prepared provides some level of comfort to our families.
Daniel Snowberger is the superintendent of Durango School District 9-R. DSnowberger@durango.k12.co.us.