May 31, 2022
Schools and our Children
Together, we join in care and compassion for the broken-hearted in Uvalde, TX as we take in the unthinkable reality of the school shooting in their community. We cannot dismiss our own fear and anger while also being overcome with gratitude for our community and in particular, the protection of our own children.
As families grieve, accusations and blame for such senseless tragedy are unleashed, undoubtedly birthed in fear, exhaustion and our unending need for control. There is certainly more we can do together. But casting stones is not our way through.
As educators, we are here on the front lines working side by side with families, our law enforcement, yes, even our lawmakers, to create environments of learning in safe spaces, to exhaustion. Humbly, we recognize we cannot eliminate fear; however, our relationships with students and families along with instituted protocols are daily mitigating risks in our communities. Schools cannot guarantee safety AND we are not reckless. Let’s always begin there.
Recognizing we are all left with questions of “what more can we do” and “how safe are our children,” I am sharing specific facts about BV Schools established protocols to prevent and respond to safety incidents as well as the extensive practices implemented to identify threats and risky behaviors. I share with you my upmost confidence in our local law enforcement and school staff. We cannot eliminate all risk but these facts provide assurance in your local community’s commitment to student safety amidst the national noise and questions of acts of violence.
Our local law enforcement is exceptionally practiced in school response protocols. Sadly, Colorado was one of the first states with repeated school safety threats and tragedies. The outcome is our state is well trained and leads the nation in school safety protocols. See the iloveuguys foundation on the district website for information.
BV Schools and our local law enforcement have a strong partnership, meeting at least monthly to regularly review protocols. This year, in addition to routine drills, we conducted a larger scale drill for our schools to practice response. Chaffee County dispatch and our Department of Corrections staff also supported the schools in these emergency response drills. Later this summer, a large scale drill will be conducted in our schools for an all-county emergency response.
Based on my own participation in these drills and the witnessed conversations between law enforcement, I have no doubt our local law enforcement, many who are mothers and fathers of children in our schools, would move swiftly and directly to an offender in our schools. It is how they train. They have access to our buildings and have studied our school buildings. We have a mutual respect for each other and the children and families we serve.
In the days following the most recent incident, our local law enforcement were on site during arrival and drop off and were routinely patrolling our sites. I could not be more grateful for those in our community who protect and serve our children and staff.
BV Schools invests in a School Resource Officer (SRO), with equal investment from the Town of Buena Vista for this position.
BV Schools has locked exterior doors during the school day.
BV Schools prioritizes school attendance, even during a pandemic, and participation in a variety of school activities. Connections with peers and adults reduces risk factors of violent acts exponentially.
In addition to these well-practiced protocols, BV Schools has invested in prevention and awareness. Recently, our schools developed a “Wrap Team” that includes a counselor, school psychologist, and family coordinator to work in collaboration with our school counselors and staff. These staff are trained in recognizing behaviors demonstrating risk. All BV Schools staff participate in regular training for “trauma” to be aware of more predictive signs of risk behaviors.
When we can be humbled to know we are not in control, living life as risk, that there will always be evil in this world for us to contend with, and we work together to protect and provide for one another, we will be well. Certainly we can and should further work to mitigate risk, but we must do so together. To suggest evil actions are actually the fault of public servants would be foolish. We need hope, not despairing words.
BV Schools community, may the facts of our extensive, well-practiced local prevention and response protocols be the foundation to even more emboldened and unifying actions for the sanctity of our children. In times of stress and uncertainty, our children need our care, steadfastness and willingness for one another.
May we each find peace.
Lisa Yates, Superintendent
Buena Vista School District