Dear Westside Families,
On behalf of the entire Westside Union School District family, including our Board of Trustees and staff, I offer our prayers and thoughts to the victims and families of the senseless school shooting in Texas. The tragedy these families are experiencing is just beyond belief.
The safety of our students is our highest priority and we take that responsibility very seriously. It is at the center of everything we do. We cannot educate our students without them being physically and emotionally safe. I wanted to share a few thoughts with you about this situation and discuss steps that we are taking to ensure the safety of our school sites.
As you have no-doubt already observed, this tragic event will continue to attract endless news coverage and this exposure can be very unsettling to children. I would encourage you to limit your children’s viewing of this event on the news and social media, especially younger students. Keep in mind that the normal filters of what is acceptable to display on the news are not applied to social media, requiring extra vigilance. If you do watch news or content surrounding the event, please discuss it with your child. Specifically, it might be helpful to emphasize that such events are rare and that our schools have extensive safety procedures in place. All our schools conduct routine emergency drills and have safety plans.
We also work hard to secure our school facilities.
- No person may enter any school facility without clearance from the school office first, and only those with a legitimate reason for being on campus are permitted access.
- Every Westside campus is a “secure school” where unrestricted access and movement is never permitted.
- All teachers and district staff are trained to rapidly “lock down” our school sites and individual classrooms at a moments notice. Our goal is maintaining a secure environment to protect our children and staff should any incident emerge.
- Westside Union School District is capable of maintaining real-time communications with law enforcement, local and state officials and parents should any potential threat emerge. Such communications can be initiated at a moments notice.
- We maintain detailed evacuation plans to rapidly remove children, volunteers and staff from dangerous situations should they emerge. These plans include multiple exits and methods of maintaining communication amidst the evacuation.
- We will conduct a thorough internal review of safety protocols in the wake of this tragedy to ensure that every sensible strategy is being deployed to keep our children and staff safe.
That said, even with extensive safety measures in place, many of our students are struggling to make sense of these events and we are offering our complete support for them.
We will have counselors and psychologists available all week to support any student needing support to deal with this tragic event. I also encourage you to speak with your children about the importance of alerting the appropriate authorities when they see something out of the ordinary at or near their school. Far too often, after a terrible event we hear of “warning signs” associated with the individuals involved. As a society we must do better at picking up on such signs and acting accordingly. That starts with teaching our children to say something if they see something.
Out of an abundance of caution, we will be conducting drills at each of our school sites over the coming days to ensure that we have had additional practice with our students prior to their departure for vacation.
Please contact your principal if you have any questions or concerns. We continue to review our safety procedures to ensure the safety of our students and staff.
Finally, I want to take a moment to commend the teachers and staff at the school in Uvalde, Texas for their sacrifice and quick thinking to protect the children. Everyday our teachers and staff do whatever is necessary to protect our children. During the coming days, as we prepare for summer break, it might be an opportune time to let those who work with your children daily know how much you appreciate their dedication in making our schools safe. These are amazing heroes and heroines in our schools!
Please keep the families in Uvalde in your thoughts as they will need all of our help to endure this tragedy.
Again, thank you for working with us to keep our students safe.