Keeping kids safe is number one priority for district


By Becky GINOS bginos@davisclipper.com

FARMINGTON—School safety is on everyone’s mind – both nationally and locally. However, it’s been ongoing in the Davis School District long before the Florida shootings. “We’ve been working on this since Superintendent (Reid) Newey came on,” said Assistant Superintendent John Zurbuchen who gave a presentation to the school board at a recent meeting. “Safety wasn’t something we woke up to a month ago. It’s something we’ve always done.” Zurbuchen said the district has $3 million to use over three years to enhance the security video system. “We’ll be able to share video feeds with law enforcement,” he said. “Over the last five years things have changed significantly. This is the first time to take this on as a district initiative and not a building initiative. It will be standard protocol now.” Prior to the Sandy Hook shootings, Zurbuchen said there were not as many threats reported to the Davis County Management Team (DCMI). But in 2013 there were 17, with 14 after Sandy Hook, 22 in 2018 and 12 of those came after Parkland. “So are people more likely to report them now or are there more threats?” he said. “If you see something report it. Let somebody look into it. Let’s use the SafeUT app. You can anonymously screen shot something you saw on Instagram.” Administrators are being trained in the Run, Hide, Fight plan that teaches them what to do during an active shooter situation. “That was important before a month ago,” he said. “We’re taping it for a presentation to the teachers as well.” The district has also been putting in secure vestibules, Zurbuchen said. “We’re installing those and we’ll continue to do that. We’re retrofitting older buildings too. We need to harden our targets and make it hard to enter. Cameras are great to look to see what happened, but we want to look at what’s about to happen.” The vestibules allow visitors to enter the main door but not the next set of doors without someone letting them in. “It makes it uncomfortable for people because the doors are not open which is inconvenient,” he said. “Parents might wonder why they need to show ID saying ‘they know who I am.’ But they’d be willing to pay the cost of inconvenience if it keeps kids safe.” Zurbuchen said the check-in system at elementary schools hasn’t been terribly secure in the past. “Now we’re changing it so visitors have to log in using their MyDSD login or show the secretary ID to check out kids,” he said. “It’s more secure because we had a parent tell us it wasn’t secure enough. Please notify administration if you think security is compromised at your school. You don’t know what you don’t know until you know it. We need an extra set of eyes.” Even when the media attention on safety dies down, Zurbuchen said everyone should still be alert. “Don’t fall off on that vigilance,” he said. “We’re not going to quit looking at safety. We won’t relax on those things. We need to continue drills and talk to teachers. Don’t inoculate yourself from this. Keep it at the forefront.” The district already had plans in place before Parkland, he said. “We have to make sure we’re not being caught unprepared. Our world is our world and it’s not going to change. We’re never going to be finished. Our number one job is to keep kids safe or we can’t educate them.”

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