The school shooting that took place at Oxford High School in Michigan today was a saddening and infuriating reminder that schools in this country must remain vigilant about safety. While school shootings remain rare in preschools and elementary schools, this kind of violence appears to be on the rise again since schools have mostly resumed in-person learning after pandemic closures. 2020 saw only 10 of these kinds of events, and sadly the country now stands at 28 so far this school year.
SCHOOL SAFETY PLANS
WHPS is committed to ensuring the safety of our entire community. We hope you will find the following information helpful in understanding the steps we have taken and are taking to ensure the continued safety of our community.
- PARTNERSHIP: We are part of a School Safety Task Force with LAPD Topanga Division. As part of this task force, we have a direct line of communication with the Senior Lead Officers in the area, which enables us to work together quickly and efficiently on threat assessments, investigations, and any other safety concerns that may arise.
- PLANS & PRACTICE: Our school has an approved School Safety Plan. School safety encompasses multiple domains within the school environment that must be reviewed altogether when assessing the level of safety for students and staff. All students and staff participate in safety drills to test their preparedness and understand their roles and responsibilities in the event of a crisis. Our most recent practice event was November 10, 2021 with all students and staff.
Some analysis of lockdown drills as a school safety measure. Note: WHPS does not conduct high intensity lockdown drills.
- TRAINING: Our administration team has met with our LAPD Senior Lead Officers to discuss the latest information about school safety and to craft a comprehensive plan for training to our entire staff on these new measures. In addition, we have hosted training for other school directors in the San Fernando Valley.
- COMMUNICATION & MONITORING: We take every piece of information and every concern seriously. Parents, we ask you to continue to report anything you see, hear, or sense that could affect student, staff or school safety. In addition, we closely monitor the school grounds through our closed circuit camera system.
TALKING TO CHILDREN ABOUT SCHOOL SAFETY
Many of us struggle with how to talk to our children about this. How young is too young? How much or how little information should we share? And even if we’re not talking about it with our children, how do we address fears they might have?
Here are some recommendations when talking with children about this topic (adapted from Child Mind Institute and the National Association of Elementary School Principals):
- First and foremost, a rule of thumb when discussing any mature topic, whether it has to do with school safety or puberty or peer pressure, is to follow the child’s lead. This is not something you need to bring up at home with young children unless they are asking about it or showing fear or concern. But, remember, children take in a lot more ambient information than we give them credit for.
- Don’t shut down the conversation if they bring it up. If you avoid the topic, your child may find the event even more threatening or think it is simply too horrible to speak about.
- Answer the questions they’re asking honestly and reassuringly, but don’t delve deeper into the topic than they take it. It's better to start by asking what they have heard and take it from there.
- Correct any inaccurate information: If your child has misconceptions or inaccurate information, correct them in a simple age-appropriate way.
- Invite your child to tell you how s/he feels, but avoid leading questions, such as “Are you worried about being safe at school?
- Stay calm and use “emotional self-control.” The emotions you express will influence your child’s feelings.
- Avoid "emotional contamination" by discussing your fears or anxiety about the future.
- Reinforcing safety is important with young children. Emphasize that the incident happened very far away from us and let your child know that we have wonderful people who are doing everything they can to make school a safe place for learning and having fun with friends and classmates.
Our administration team understands that this is an emotional and tricky topic to broach with children. It is incredibly important to us that ALL children and families feel supported as we process this most recent tragedy. I am heartbroken that we even have to. If you have questions, concerns or other feedback, please don’t hesitate to speak with me or anyone on our administration team.
Head of School