To: Burlington Parents and Community
From: Eric Conti, Superintendent of Schools
Patrick Larkin, Assistant Superintendent of Schools
Let us start with the acknowledgment that these are challenging times. Last week’s school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida left us at a loss for words. It is impossible to rationalize any situation where students are sent off to school by their parents and then fail to return at the end of the day due to a violent incident at school.
The purpose of this communication is to provide some information about what we have in place to address school safety concerns brought forth by parents since last week’s incident.
Safety and Security
The safety and security of students, staff, and visitors to our school continues to be at the top of our priority list. We have a holistic approach to our safety and security planning that focuses on supporting both the physical environment and the emotional environment present in our schools. In regards to the emotional supports, Burlington has made a commitment to increase the focus on Social Emotional Learning supports across the district. In addition to specific programs, like Responsive Classroom, that seek to build connections to school for each student, the district has a dedicated school psychologist and adjustment counselor within each school. Ensuring access to mental health support for all students is imperative to maintaining safe schools.
In regards to the physical environment, the district has worked closely with the town in recent years to update the entrances to all of our buildings so that there are secure entrances where visitors are buzzed in and then enter the main office before accessing other areas of the building. In addition, Burlington Public Schools continues to work closely with the Burlington Police Department to review and revise safety procedures to maintain student and staff safety. This close partnership has included Burlington School Administrators and Burlington Police attending the National School Safety Summit in Colorado in the summer of 2016. As a result of the collaborative efforts of the school and police departments, a new Standard Response Protocol was adopted at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year.
All Burlington schools practice both evacuation and lockdown drills on a regular basis. School administrators organize these drills in conjunction with the Burlington Police Department and debrief after each drill to assess areas for improvement. We continuously revisit different scenarios to make sure that in the event of a particular emergency our staff and students are prepared.
In closing, we know that one of the most effective means for us to maintain safe schools is for students, parents, and staff to feel empowered and safe to report anything they see or hear that is at all out of the ordinary or disturbing. All of us – school personnel, students, parents and community members – are vital to this effort to keep our schools safe. We appreciate your questions and feedback on the topic of school safety and please be assured that this area will continue to occupy the top spot on our priority list.