Given the fact that there have been numerous reported incidents recently involving school safety across the state and nation, I wanted to reach out to you with an important message and assure you that student safety remains our highest priority.
At Norfolk Public Schools, we know that the possibility of a threat always exists and that is why we remain vigilant about identifying and addressing possible threats as soon as possible. We work hard every day to make sure we are alert, aware, and diligent in our safety procedures and responses across our district. We understand that people are concerned for the welfare of their friends and family, and that is why our responsibility to provide a safe environment is paramount.
In the last 12 months, our district has been extremely proactive about enhancing our current safety procedures and we have provided time and resources to train staff and students on these procedures. This training gives our students and staff clear expectations about how to respond to a crisis situation and promotes a culture of preparedness and calm.
We have also added a second full-time School Resource Officer to our school district, and we have increased the amount of safety drills we perform. Additionally, we implemented a Safe Schools reporting tool that is available to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on our school website. Through this system, incidents (anything from a simple tripping hazard in the sidewalk to the larger threat of school violence) can be reported immediately (and anonymously) at any time of day.
Student safety is a collaborative effort between our staff, students, families, and community stakeholders. Parents can assist by reassuring their children that they are safe and that it is okay to talk about their fears and report things that may seem scary to them. They can also assist by helping students understand that any comment or action regarding bringing a weapon, threatening others, or inciting violence will be met with a thorough investigation and serious consequences (including possible school suspensions or expulsions).
As a staff, we will continue to practice our safety procedures with our students and reiterate that we have plans in place to keep them safe. We will also continue to provide a caring and supportive environment that makes it a safe place to report concerns to their teachers, principals, and guidance counselors.
Thank you for partnering with us to ensure that all students and staff within NPS are kept safe. Because this is always our highest priority, we will continue to do whatever it takes to keep our students and staff safe!
Dr. Jami Jo Thompson