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Safe schools make for better schools
August 27, 2015 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis
As another school year gets underway, security continues as a major factor in the educational process at Gering and at every school.
“The core of every problem is a committee,” said Gering School Superintendent Bob Hastings. “Glen Koski is the new head of the safety committee. All the principals are also involved in that, some teachers and local emergency responders.”

Both Gering and Scottsbluff police and fire departments have attended meetings and are part of the overall plan, as well as the area Emergency Management Director.

“We have a large group of people involved in that committee,” Hastings said, “They discuss appropriate procedures we should follow and potential issues we might face in our buildings.”

Group members also conduct regular walk-throughs of all the buildings to identify potential problems that need to be corrected.
Safety drills are conducted on a regular basis in all schools. In past years, it was usually fire drills. Today, drills also cover fire emergencies, lockdowns, intruder drills and weather emergencies. Police also participate and provide feedback for improvement.

Parents also play a part in making sure their children’s schools are safe. “We ask parents not to call when an emergency happens unless they’re directed to do so,” Koski said. “We’re in charge of taking care of their kids while they’re in the building and that’s our first concern. We’ll contact the parents as soon as possible and let them know what’s going on.”

Hastings said in case of any emergency, the district will use social media, the school’s website and all media outlets in the community, as well as its robocall system.

“Parents should make sure their contact information is up to date and accurate,” Hastings said. “Another thing, parents should talk with their kids and learn what the kids are concerned about. And parents should also talk about what emergency procedures the family has at home. Make sure there’s good communication.”

Entry to the school’s buildings are also more closely monitored. For some time, all buildings have controlled access from outside. The district has also moved beyond keyed entry for staff and teacher, opting for an entry code on the back of all staff IDs.
‘As we look at our facilities study in the next few months, safety and security will be a big part of that,” Hastings said. “We need to have as safe as buildings as we can.”

The School Resources Officer is now in the second year in Gering and has been a big success. Henry Moreno is predominantly at the high school, but is available for assistance in other buildings.
“The resources officer is a great thing,” Hastings said. “We have really safe schools and it’s a good resource to have. Henry does more than just keep the building secure, he there to communicate with kids and build relationships.”

Hastings added that parents also play a part in communicating. “Keep your ears open,” he said. “If you hear anything of concern, even if you’re not sure, please tell someone about it.”
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