The events that occurred last week at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida are tragic, and our thoughts continue to remain with those who were impacted by this senseless act of violence. The number one priority of a school or division administrative and instructional leader is the safety of our students, staff and community members. We take this responsibility seriously and work to be proactive in our safety measures.
Although we are unable to share all of our plans and procedures in regards to school safety, we do want to provide some basic information about school measures in Radford City Public Schools (RCPS):
- The Radford City Police Department (RCPD), Radford Sherriff’s Department and RCPS have a very strong partnership. In addition to a school resource officer at JDIS and RHS, officers from both of these law enforcement agencies visit our schools on a consistent basis, many times staying most of the day to provide support and interact with students and staff members.
- The doors of all schools are secure during the school day. Parents and visitors are reminded to use the main entrance to the school when visiting to announce their arrival. RCPS received close to $80,000 in grant funding this year to help replace or upgrade all of our security cameras within the schools.
- All schools have a crisis plan that is specific to their school to keep students and staff members safe while addressing a threat in or outside of the building.
- We practice school safety drills at least four times per year so that in the event of an emergency, our teachers and students know exactly what to do. The Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Department of Criminal Services provide standards for these drills. Protocols are then implemented in cooperation with our local law enforcement agencies.
- If there are concerning actions by a student, staff, or community member, our schools have threat assessment teams to determine the level of threat the individual may pose to themselves or to others.
- We have a heightened state of awareness because of previous tragedies that have occurred within the New River Valley. While we have learned from these incidents and enhanced our safety plans and protocols, we continue to seek out and attend threat assessment and school safety workshops and webinars.
In RCPS, like schools across the nation, we make every effort to keep our students safe. Security plans are important and we have those in place. We are grateful for the strong partnerships that we have with our local law enforcement agencies, and, as a community member, you can work with us. It is important that we build caring relationships with each other and share information and concerns with the proper authorities. The greatest deterrent is communication. If you have a concern, please share it with our school staff or local law enforcement so that they can help provide appropriate resources. No information will be discounted, and we will provide help, as needed, through specialized community agencies.
Our hearts go out to the community of Stoneman Douglas High School.