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March 2018

To the Parents, Students, and Community Members of Region One, 

I always prefer to speak and write about the positive things taking place in our schools. Our students and programs designed to promote increased learning are what we should be spending all of our time communicating.

How tragic it is that, instead, school officials must address concerns we all have for the safety of our students. For years, schools were safe places for our children and our staff. For the past twenty years, since the time of Columbine in 1999, schools as safe places are seriously in question. 

On the day following the loss of lives in the Florida school, our Region One administrators met and discussed what has been on all of our minds. If it were within our powers, these horrible events would never occur; yet we do understand that we have significant control to see that our students are safe and secure. 

We have been discussing the security of each school, ensuring that all doors and access points are properly closed and locked. Every school has a protocol in place for school entry. We will continue to have regular lock down drills and make certain that our students are well versed in actions that everyone must take. Everyone has to be vigilant about building security and access/entry to the building. Each school has a Safety Plan that addresses all aspects of security. Additionally, we must all know and be aware of the warning signs associated with mental health issues. We discussed what social/emotional education is available in our schools and the access that students, staff, and families need to have to this information.

We emphasized how important it is for teachers and staff to know our students and to watch for any signs of students with emotional challenges. Principals are discussing this need for awareness with their staff members and the necessity to immediately share with the school counselor and administrator information regarding any student having difficulties. 

March16 was a day decidated for professional development. Counselors and school psychologists in all of the schools came together to create a regional Crisis Intervention Team and to develop a protocol that would be followed, if a crisis situation were to occur in our area. This process will require several meetings. We will incorporate the important agencies and services we have in our area, such as HYSB (Housatonic Youth Service Bureau), the McCall Center, NCPN (Northwest Corner Prevention Network), and our fire and medical services. We will discuss those resources we currently have, those we need, and a systemic, regional approach that is consistent among our schools. The end result will be a well defined and understood regional plan.

As many know, March 14, March 24 and April 20 are dates that we established nationally for students and others to express their feelings about what the school violence that has occurred in our country. On March 14, each school determined the specific ways they wished to express their feelings on this topic. 

Ultimately, it is through the relationships we build and create that allow people to know we care. We will continue to have ongoing discussions in our schools and emphasize that students are our top priority, that we are here for them at all times, and that school is a place where they can be safe and secure. We are always available to support all of our students.

We appreciate the help and guidance you provide to your children. We are never done talking about this important issue. Nothing is more important than the safety of our children.  Let us work together and create hope that we can end these senseless acts and ensure that school is a safe place for everyone.

With Sincerity,
Dr. Pam Vogel, Superintendent