By Randy Bergquist, Osakis Public Schools superintendent
School safety and security has become an important and somewhat controversial topic in schools across the United States. It is very unfortunate in today’s society that we as educators in schools, and community members, have to worry about the threat of school violence including the possibility of a school shooting. Disheartening is the word that comes to mind when I think of the increase in numbers of shootings across America. Students and staff should be able to feel safe and secure when attending any school, and Osakis is no exception.
My number one goal as an educator for Osakis School is that all educational stakeholders feel safe and secure while participating in any school activity at any point during the school day and/or evening. This not only includes staff and students, but anyone who comes to our school for anything. The Osakis School Board, administration, and staff members have made a great effort to ensure students are safe when they come to our school. Here are a number of safe and secure items (in general terms) Osakis Public School has decided on and/or will implement in the near future.
Safe and secure entrances where individuals have to “buzz” into the office – office staff will grant access to those people entering the school building. Individuals will have to let office staff know exactly what their purpose for visiting the school is.
Security cameras will be added and current ones will be updated.
Two-way radios will be added so staff members will be able to communicate instantly on any emergency items.
All staff will be required to wear a break-away lanyard with their current picture on it for easy identification. This will include any person who works in our school whether it is for one day or the entire school year.
After buzzing in, individuals will be expected to sign into the respective office and wear a name badge while in the school building. Individuals who enter the school without a name badge will be asked by school personnel what their purpose for visiting is.
Our school will continue to practice fire drills and lock down procedures as required by the state of Minnesota.
On Saturday, Nov. 23, law enforcement agencies, fire department personnel, and first responders from both Douglas and Todd Counties will have an active shooter training here at Osakis Public School. This is a great opportunity for these dedicated individuals to practice their skills and gain a better understanding of the layout of the Osakis School building in case an emergency happens.
Osakis School recently received a grant in the amount of almost $40,000 to implement a School Resource Officer over the next two years. I am very excited about this great opportunity because a member of the Osakis Police Department will be in our school helping students, acting as a liaison between the school and the community, and working with our mental health team, teachers, staff, and administration to ensure student safety and success.
These safety and security measures might be upsetting to some because of the extra procedures in order to gain access into the school, meet with staff members, and or visit their child. Please know these measures are not met to upset anyone, rather, an approach to make Osakis School more safe and secure for all educational stakeholders. We want parents and community members to know you are always welcome here but new measures will be in place to help with the safety and security of our students.
Osakis Voices is rotating column written by community leaders who share their thoughts in their field of expertise.