The Woodburn School District hosted a well-attended school safety forum on May 23 in response to parent and student concerns. I want to thank everyone who came and participated in this event. It showed the strength of our community and how we pull together during difficult times.
Leading up to this event, we listened to ideas from community members about how we could improve school safety and communication with parents during emergencies. Your input was used to strengthen our student safety protocols in general, but especially in case of a threat. Thank you for your involvement.
We learned that we need to do a better and faster job communicating with parents about any threat – even if it is a hoax – that our schools receive. We mistakenly assumed sharing information about non-credible threats would cause panic. Instead, we upset parents and staff who felt we were withholding information. For that, I am truly sorry. We will do better in this area.
Please remember that the district also needs to consider individual children and families and some situations or information about them will need to remain confidential. We will also need to protect the confidentiality of any ongoing police investigation. We are working with our police department to do a better job of coordinating communication in these events.
We also learned that parents and guardians were not aware of the protocols we have in place to keep students safe. Like many school districts, we model our emergency response based on the national program I Love U Guys (www.iloveuguys.org). This foundation is the national leader at providing a Standard Response Protocol for school districts during an emergency.
We also want parents to sign up to receive information through our alert system when these emergencies occur. Please sign up at http://www.flashalert.net/news.html?id=213. Up to date information under CURRENT STATUS is available on our website at www.woodburnsd.org/schoolsafety.
Also, please update your information with your school at registration next fall. We would like to be sure we have the most current phone and email addresses. In addition, we would ask you to consider providing a cell phone number and opting in to our text message system for notification about your student’s attendance and other important announcements, including school emergencies.
The last part we are working on is a reunification plan for parents and students if a school needs to be evacuated for any reason. We appreciate the support of the Woodburn Area Ministerial Association in making churches and other houses of worship available to us and providing emotional support to those in need, which leads me to my last point.
We spent a lot of time during the forum discussing the physical safety of our students. However, security doors, school officers, and door locks have their limitations. We need to spend as much time on their emotional security, as well. Talking to your child about bullying, appropriate social media use, and checking in about how they are feeling. There are resources to help if you have concerns about your student and don’t know where to turn.
Please feel free to contact the principal at your child’s school with additional questions. Again, we appreciate the time you took to participate in these conversations.
Superintendent Chuck Ransom