Hudson -- Continued lock down drills, increases in building security and improved safety plans will be the continuing focus in the coming months the protect staff and students, according to a security overview by Hudson Superintendent Phil Herman.
Herman kicked off Mental Wellness Week at the Feb. 10 Board of Education meeting by explaining what has and will continue to be done to improve school safety.
School safety was focused "almost entirely" on building security and lock-down plans until about three years ago, Herman said.
"Today's conversation of school safety has evolved to include the importance of cooperative relationships and, most importantly, mental health and wellness," he said.
Board member Gary Mushock agreed that safety and mental wellness are important factors in school safety.
"As you know it doesn't matter how good our teachers are or what books we are using, if students don't have a safe environment or early intervention if internal issues arise, it's not going to work," Mushock said.
Board President Dave Zuro agreed.
"Our number one priority is the safety and well being of our students and staff," Zuro said.
District security is categorized into four components: building security, plans and procedures, cooperative relationships, and mental wellness, according to Herman.
Each category has been improved to enhance safety, he said.
"This is actually the first year in Hudson school history that we have had buzz-in procedures for all schools within the school system," Herman said. "That has really been made possible by the new security entrances at Hudson High and Eastwoods Elementary schools."
The district is also trying to make sure each exterior door remains locked during the school day, he said. However, it can be a challenge, he added.
"Our high school has 18 exits," Herman said. "And when you have 1,600 students at 18 exits, sometimes doors get propped open or someone texts a friend and says, 'Open a door.'"
The district has also installed internal and external cameras at each building.
"We would like to increase the number of cameras and improve the quality of some of our older cameras," he added.
Along with the cameras, each office has monitors installed. The district also wants to explore plans to modify and improve entrances at some schools,.
The district plans to have monthly "age appropriate" lock-down drills at each school this year, according to Herman.
"Lock down drills can be a scary situation for young students," Herman said. "So we spend a lot of time talking with our parents and our staff about what are the best ways to introduce lock-down procedures to those young students."
Staff members have also been trained in ALICE procedures -- alert, lock-down, inform, counter and evacuate.
The training empowers staff who are in harms way to take action, Herman said.
"We have provided to our staff security plan flip charts on the most likely or most serious incidents," Herman said.
The district has a safety plan which covers a variety of emergency situations, but the flip charts are to be used in case of an immediate emergency.
"We don't expect anyone in an immediate emergency to be accessing a binder, then flip through to page 42 to find the appropriate action to take," Herman said. "So we have quick action flip charts that are very basic, bullet point action items in the event of an emergency."
The district also plans to improve reunification plans, which means reunifying parents and students.
According to Herman, district safety is dependant on cooperative relationships with staff, students and parents, other schools and districts and safety forces, such as having School Resource Police Officers Mike Burchard and Jim Curtain on campus as well as other officers and officials.
Herman pledged that the district will continue to help make students and parents aware of the variety of safety and mental wellness resources available through direct support, counseling, and school programs.
To report a school safety issue contact the safe school number at 800-418-6423 ext. 359, text the word "TIPS" to 66746, or visit www.safeschoolhelpline.com.
For more on school safety visit www.hudson.edu.