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Rockwood Leaders Deliver District Safety Update to Board of Education

 Rockwood's school resource officers smile in a group photo outside of a schoolAt the Sept. 1 Board of Education meeting, Board members received a district safety update from Superintendent Dr. Curtis Cain, Safety Supervisor Ty Dennis, Chief Information Officer Deb Ketring, Chief Communications Officer Mary LaPak and Executive Director of Student Services Dr. Terry Harris.

“Safety is so critical to us,” Cain shared. “We have hit the ground running this school year. I have had the pleasure to meet with police and fire department chiefs in St. Louis County. I am so appreciative of the partnership we have with our first responders. They help keep us all safe, and their willingness to partner and work on the ground level with our administrators and staff in our district should absolutely be commended. We are truly appreciative of their efforts.”

The presentation provided updates on Rockwood’s continuing and expanding efforts in the following areas: physical safety/personnel; protocols/training; cybersecurity; communications; and social and emotional security.

Cain shared that the annual district crisis workshop – which includes fire and police officials from within Rockwood as well as district administrators and PTO leadership – will take place Sept. 28. Rockwood will also have all of its staff review intruder training on the Oct. 3 professional development day, when classes are not in session.

Cain also expressed appreciation to the Rockwood community for helping pass the 2015 and 2017 bond issues that have allowed the district to bolster its school safety efforts.

“This has been a longstanding effort in this district,” Cain said. “This is an ever-changing threat horizon we’re dealing with, so we have to respond accordingly.”

Dennis shared the physical safety measures in place around the district – such as secured entrances and safety film glass – as well as thanking our district school resource officers for the positive relationships they cultivate within their communities.

Dennis also shared that each school will perform table-top safety drill exercises during the first and third quarters of the school year as well as intruder drill exercises during the second and fourth quarters.

In the realm of cybersecurity, Ketring shared that the district has implemented an end-user training program for staff and secondary students to increase awareness and identification of phishing attempts. Rockwood has also enlisted a 24/7 cybersecurity monitoring system and will soon be implementing multifactor authentication for users of the district network.

LaPak shared communication protocols that Rockwood has in place in the event of a crisis, including a district hotline, instant mass communication through ParentSquare and 10-step plans for a myriad of situations.

Harris shared that social-emotional safety is a key component to the overall safety of our schools and students, stressing that Rockwood’s multitiered systems of support start the moment a student boards their bus in the morning and a friendly Rockwood Transportation worker greets them.

“Then it’s the cafeteria worker, then the teachers, then specialists like school counselors, social workers, therapists, social-emotional behavior specialists, student behavior team specialists and nurses,” Harris said. “What we believe is the foundation of school safety is emotional safety. This lies in building a healthy community where all students and adults feel like they belong and are part of our community.”

Harris noted new social-emotional initiatives in Rockwood, such as the reimagined Pathways alternative learning Wellness Center – which started the year with more than 40 students – Hazel HEART teletherapy opportunities for students and the new use of Courage2Report for the Rockwood tipline.   

Click here to see the safety update presented to the Board, and click here to see the 2022 Report on School Safety and Security.