By EMMA BARTLETT
In the wake of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, last week, Cranston Public Schools leadership team notified parents on May 25 of the district’s updated …
By EMMA BARTLETT
In the wake of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, last week, Cranston Public Schools leadership team notified parents on May 25 of the district’s updated security measures to protect students; CPS also provided families with resources to assist parents in talking with their children about acts of violence.
“This is a horrific, tragic event and we are keeping the students and families in Uvalde, Texas, close to our hearts now in the difficult days ahead,” reads the district’s email.
CPS asked families and staff to continue working together to ensure the schools’ safety measures work effectively. The measures include not letting people who are not with you into a school building, not following anyone into a school building if the office hasn’t buzzed you in, going directly to the office and checking in before going to a classroom, not propping doors open, and letting the office know right away if someone is walking around a school building without a visitor identification.
“Know that we have frequent Cranston Police Department patrol visits to our elementary schools and our School Resource Officers are all available to our elementary schools as well,” the email reads.
As for safety drills, the district has one Emergency Egress Drill per month, one additional within the first 30 days of school. In one of every four drills, there should be an obstruction (one or more exits or stairways are blocked). There are also two evacuation drills and two lockdown drills which are held in September and January.
The police department also conducts Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate (ALICE) Training every school year in early fall for all students and staff in the district which is made age appropriate for all student levels. ALICE is a method of active shooter response instructed by certified members of the Cranston Police Department; the staff also receives ALICE training at their new teacher orientation.
Cranston’s Chief of Police Colonel Michael Winquist updated the community Friday with the department’s efforts to protect students and faculty. Winquist said if you see something, say something.
“The best preventative measure to mass shootings involves early detection,” said Winquist, mentioning that the department’s Detective Division and School Resource Officers will immediately investigate tips. “It’s critical that anything you see or hear that is out of the ordinary is immediately reported to law enforcement.”
Winquist shared that annually since 2013, the department has provided training to more than 10,000 faculty and staff in active threat response options.
“These lockdown procedures are evaluated for improvements after each drill to ensure schools are prepared to handle the threat of an intruder or active shooter proactively,” Winquist said.
In addition, all patrol officers receive active short response training, communication between the district and police department occur frequently and safety and security plans exist for every school and are routinely discussed and updated; the department also provides four school resource officers for the district.
Winquist said the department established a Crisis Intervention Team that includes officers and mental health clinicians who are trained to deescalate and coordinate mental health treatment for those experiencing a mental health crisis. Cranston Police frequently uses the Emergency Protection Orders/Red Flag Law to remove from or prevent the purchase of firearms by individuals suspected to be an immediate danger to themselves or others.
To assist parents and children in talking about/understanding acts of violence, CPS provided a list of children, teen and adult books for those dealing with anxiety and worry.
“These types of news stories are incredibly upsetting and anxiety provoking for all of us. However, for our students who may or may not be worried about things in their lives already, hearing this news, seeing it on the television and on social media, as well as discussing it with their peers can increase their anxiety even more,” the CPS leadership team said.
Children’s books to check out include “Ruby Finds a Worry” by Tom Percival (ages 4 to 7), “The What ifs” by Emily Kilgore (ages 4 to 8) and “Brave Every Day” by Patrice Barton (ages 4 to 8). Teen books and workbooks include “Outsmarting Worry” by Dawn Huebner (ages 9 to 13), “The Anxiety Workbook for Teens” by Lisa Schab LCSW (ages 13 and up) and “What to do When News Scares You: A Kid’s Guide to Understanding Current Events,” by Jacqueline Toner.
For adults who are looking for ways to talk with their children about these hard topics, check out “The Opposite of Worry: The Play Parenting Approach to Childhood Anxieties and Fears” by Lawrence Cohen Ph.D. and “When the World Feels Like a Scary Place: Essential Conversations for Anxious Parents and Worried Kids” by Abigail Gerwitz, PhD.
CPS provided parents with a link for how to talk with children about violence – specifically about community shootings.
“The American Psychological Association (APA) recommends being honest with children, acknowledging that bad things do happen, but reassuring them with information that many people are working to keep them safe, including their parents, teachers and law enforcement. The APA also advises limiting children’s exposure to news coverage following such traumatic events,” said CPS.
APA suggests talking with children about their concerns and finding times when they are most likely to talk – such as in the car, before dinner or at bedtime. Keeping explanations developmentally appropriate is also important. According to APA, with early elementary school children, parents should focus on simple information and balance it with reassurances that their school and homes are safe. Upper elementary and early middle school-aged children may ask more questions and a conversation with them can involve discussing the school/community leaders’ efforts to keep schools safe. Lastly, for conversations with upper middle and high school students, emphasize the role that students have in maintaining school safety guidelines.
Current security measures within the schools include the following: all exterior doors are locked with several of these doors equipped with access control devices to allow for staff access; visitor entry is limited to main entrances controlled by intercoms, cameras and a door release; extensive video surveillance systems provide coverage of external areas, to include entry points, student playgrounds, physical education areas -- internal cameras provide additional coverage; several schools have panic alarms; Cranston Police has 24/7 access to all schools through the access control devices located on school exterior doors; there is a program for Cranston Police Department patrol officers to make periodic visits of schools in the patrol area on a daily basis.
According to CPS Communications Specialist Jen Cowart, when the district renovates/build our new schools, there will be enhanced security measures. She said the new designs allow for safe entryways to our buildings, panic buttons in strategic locations and enhanced video surveillance systems with open door alerts.
In addition to ‘if you see something, say something,’ individuals can send anonymous tips to the Cranston Police Department through texting the keyword CRANSTONPD and your tip to 847411.
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