January 4, 2010
I hope this letter finds you doing well and staying warm after a long and somewhat cold break. I’m writing this letter today to talk a little bit about some safety practices that are common to Cohasset Elementary School. It may seem as odd timing so perhaps a little background information would help.
Last week I attended a Cohasset community meeting regarding an individual who was moving into the Cohasset area. The meeting was required as the individual is a registered level III sex offender. As you read that sentence I’m guessing you have some concerns, so please keep reading. One of the concerns that was raised at the meeting, and rightly so, was the proximity of the individual moving near a school. The short answer is that, once an individual is released, they may choose to live wherever they can find residence.
As a parent, and the Principal of our school, I shared some of my concerns and some information about our school. I shared some of the practices that are in place at our school (which I’ll share with you below). I also shared my larger concern which is for students in general when they are in less supervised situations.
The fortunate part of an unfortunate situation is that the school has tools in place for issues such as this. I hope that after reading the following you might better understand why we do some of the things we do. Many of the things we practice now weren’t in place even when I was in school, which may go to show how much times have changed.
Some of our practices you may have noticed, some you may not. During the school day all of our exterior doors remain locked with the exception of our main entry. This provides a single entry where all visitors are to sign in and wear a name badge. We also have cameras on each of our exit/entrances. Along with phones in each of our rooms we also have a PA system and utilize hand held radios for quick communication. Our playground is now fenced in and will have a permanent fence in place for the start of the next school year. Throughout the year we practice hard and soft lock downs which allow us to have all doors locked and everyone accounted for in a matter of minutes. We have community members who are quick to call or point out anything out of the ordinary and above all we talk with our kids. We even have a school counselor that goes right in to our classrooms and presents on a variety of topics (bullying, student safety, strangers, etc).
If there is something positive that can come of this I hope that it can be the raising an awareness and discussions we can and should be having with our kids on how to stay safe. With this note I’m attaching a sheet titled 8 Safety Rules for Kids (in Tuesday Folder). I’ve also listed a few websites to check out, the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center has an excellent section for families. These aren’t meant to be a complete list, but do offer a starting point for discussions to have with your children.
- Jacob Wetterling Resource Center: www.jwrc.org
- Includes a section called “Keep Kids Safe”
- Itasca Alliance Against Sexual Assault: www.iaasa.org
- Minnesota Department of Corrections: www.doc.state.mn.us
- Includes a Offender Search (left hand side – “Search Offender Records”)
Along with what we do in school, I hope you can speak with your children as well about how to stay safe. If you need any additional information or have any questions feel free to contact me at any time.
Principal – Cohasset Elementary School