As we return from summer break, I want to take time to emphasize
the importance of practicing our reactions to any given emergency in a serious
and deliberate manner. As recently experienced in a local Rockford private
school, staff had seconds to respond to a suspected gunman in their building. Staff
quickly assessed and determined their need to evacuate and head to their local
shelter, leading more than 120 students on foot to safety about a quarter mile
away. This was no simple act and took knowledge of their emergency plan, practice
and determination to execute quickly and safely. Thankfully, the situation was
not as initially thought to be.
In 2018, CNN reported there were 23 reported school attacks
in the US (CNN, May 25). The common thread: the speed of the attacks
and the lack of time people had to assess and respond. During drills, we
provide staff and students the opportunity to practice their response, hone skills
and develop habits. The time gained with an instantaneous response can be the
difference in life or death. When time matters, every second counts. To provide
students and staff with the best possible tools, we partnered with Rockford
Police to train them in a variety of techniques known as A.L.I.C.E. (Alert,
Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate). Knowledge of school plans and comprehension
and use of these tools enhance our ability to respond to any given situation in
a moment’s notice and reach far beyond an active shooter.
Lastly, staff members have impact. The way they practice is
conveyed to their students. Their sense of purpose and manner of execution is contagious.
Staff: students observe and mimic your tone. Take practice seriously, so will
your students. Less than serious, so will your students. Every student you
touch leaves a lasting impression.
So, whether it be a fire, tornado, severe
weather or law enforcement drill, your demeanor, dedication and sense of
purpose go a long way in showing these young people we are teaching them a life
skill. A skill bigger than the classroom, one that will outlive us all and have
the real potential of saving a life.
All after-school activities in Rockford Public Schools are canceled today because of anticipated severe weather and poor road conditions.
Students who live in any RPS 205 attendance zone are welcome to complete an application.
Parents/guardians of children who will be 5 on or before Sept. 1 can visit the Welcome Center, 501 7th St., to enroll.
Rockford Public Schools will honor a teacher, an artist, a musician, an actor and a high school theatre production at its third Fine Arts Hall of Fame Awards in March.
School start times and dismissal will change by 10-to-15 minutes at most schools in the 2019-20 school year.
501 7th St., Rockford, IL 61104
M-F 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
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