Student safety has always been a priority for San Juan School District. Our number one goal is to ensure that students have a safe, welcoming, and healthy environment in which to further their education and chase down their dreams.
Over time the areas of focus have shifted, some quickly appearing at the forefront of the public eye, while others seemingly fade away from the spotlight.
In recent years this rapidly changing setting has begun to change even more swiftly. This is in part due to 24-hour news networks and the advances of social media.
With this increase in available information most Utah School Districts are frequently being asked, “What are you doing about School Safety?”
The short answer is that we are continually looking for ways to improve, constantly evaluating our procedures, programs, and drills to identify our strengths as well as point out areas in need of development.
Through all of this our goal has remained the same: keep kids safe.
One area of concentration that we decided to improve on this school year is our School Emergency Response Plans (ERP).
Currently all 12 schools in our district have ERPs that are in compliance with the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) guidance.
Copies of these plans are kept at the individual schools as well as at the district office. This year we had the opportunity through a grant that the district was awarded to purchase a new software program named Navigate Prepared.
Navigate Prepared is a comprehensive program designed to help schools update and modify their ERP more fluidly, to practice emergency drills and procedures on a regular basis with up-to-the-minute feedback on performance, and to share critical information in real time with faculty and staff members as well as first responders and law enforcement agencies in the event of a crisis.
We are excited to implement this new program and share it with the applicable municipalities throughout the county.
This will allow them to have access to our floor plans and other critical information to help them better respond to anything from a natural disaster to an armed intruder scenario.
Additional steps we are taking will include the creation of threat assessment teams consisting of Principals, Assistant Principals, Counselors, School Social Workers, Professional Health Care Providers, and Law Enforcement.
These teams will evaluate potential areas of concern, track these concerns, and recommend corrective action plans.
We are also participating in large scale emergency drills with a number of governmental agencies, including the Navajo Nation Police, FBI, San Juan County Sheriff’s Department, San Juan County Emergency Medical Services, San Juan County Emergency Management, local hospitals, and local police departments.
Another important thing to remember is that while extreme incidents such as school shootings tend to attract the most attention, day-to-day incidents such as gossip, hallway fights, and safety concerns on the playground or with transportation all contribute to students’ overall sense of safety and shape the learning climate in the school.
In an effort to address concerns in these areas, San Juan School District is committed to an atmosphere of prevention.
This includes implementing playground and transportation safety measures, including Restorative Justice practices in our disciplinary procedures, a comprehensive overhaul of our bullying and harassment policy, having students participate in Hope Squads, and diligently working to lower chronic absenteeism.
To accomplish this, we have hired social workers and attendance trackers, introduced software to increase communication with parents, and joined with local mental health providers and other governmental agencies to create a culture of inclusion.
Through it all we will strive to continue making student safety a top priority and continue to construct an environment where Students, Faculty, and Staff not only feel safe, but also empowered.