What we’re doing to keep our children safe
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Welcome back for the second semester of the 2022-2023 school year, and Happy New Year! We hope you had a wonderful vacation and you were able to enjoy the winter holidays with friends and family.
Like all schools, Keystone continues to study and evaluate security and safety protocols. It’s a sad and unfortunate reality in today’s world that we must spend time and resources assessing possible threats and ways to both prevent and mitigate potentially dangerous situations.
In addition, we want to strike a balance between making our school as protective as possible and ensuring that Cobras see Keystone as a joyful place where they can grow as students and people without an omnipresent shadow of fear hanging over them.
To help us accomplish this, we have had two security audits conducted by outside professionals earlier this school year. In September, officers from the San Antonio police department studied both campuses and provided suggestions.
In October, a nationally recognized security consultancy from Austin with more than 40 years of experience in law enforcement spent two days at the Little School and on the main campus evaluating our security procedures and offering recommendations. They interviewed faculty/staff, administrators, a PTO representative/Trustee/current parent, and representatives from other organizations in the surrounding neighborhoods. Ultimately, they provided a confidential report to the school administration containing commendations and recommendations for improvement.
Their overall assessment was that the school’s security measures were “very good,” and exceeded peers in many areas. Nevertheless, they did provide several recommendations in the areas of physical security, security processes, training and exercises, and information sharing and crisis communications.
Fortunately, we had already begun planning to implement some of their suggestions, and we will continue to make changes. So, what can you expect to see going forward?
In facilities, there will be:
- Cameras on the perimeter of the campus
- Coverings on some external fences
- New/upgraded locks on buildings and classroom doors
- More lighting
We will also increase training in three areas:
- First aid
- Crisis response
- Crisis assessment and management
Thanks to a Keystone parent, we have also joined with the SAPD’s multidisciplinary Behavioral Threat Assessment Group.
- This group consists of professionals in a variety of domains: mental health; law enforcement, fire department; and legal/judicial professionals
- The purpose of this group is to “engage, as early as possible, in the assessment and management of concerns, to deter a path of violence towards others.”
- Pressing concerns reported to this entity may result in an in-person assessment with their Threat Assessment Contact Team.
This group of security and mental health experts evaluates potential threats and advises the school on the proper course of action. Keystone School counselor Dr. Erica Shapiro is now in regular contact with SAPD’s threat assessment group, and spoke at this past Tuesday’s faculty/staff in-service day on warning signs that could indicate severe mental health issues and potentially problematic behavior.
The consultant also commended Keystone for implementing a new software that will allow us to track attendance quickly in case of an emergency. For the safety of our students and for effective communication, we ask you to please use SchoolPass to notify us if your child will be absent for the day or will miss some of the day for an appointment.
Since the first mass school shooting at Columbine in 1999, law enforcement professionals have advised schools that the most critical form of prevention is having a community where students or adults inform either faculty/staff or administration if they have a concern. The old adage “if you see something, say something” is as appropriate today as it has ever been.
As the Keystone community has shown in the past, by working together, we can do great things and nothing is more important than keeping our students, families, and faculty/ staff healthy and safe. Moving forward, we will continue to study our policies, procedures, and protocols in the area of security and look for ways to improve while creating an environment that is productive and happy.