September 11, 2014

Committed to Safety

A 2nd grader enjoying our restored
elementary play structure
This week marks the first anniversary of the terrible flooding we had in Boulder and the surrounding areas. So many of our Friends’ School families were affected, and I’m sure many of us in Boulder County are finding our own personal ways to reflect on the events of a year ago.

We were very lucky that our school campus had less damage than a lot of structures near us. Nevertheless, I thought this might be an opportune time to reflect and to inform all of you about the steps we take at school to prepare for the worst.

At Friends’ School, we are committed to the safety of all of our students, parents and staff.  

We find that there is always a balance between having a warm, open and friendly environment, of which we are proud, and a secure campus.  We fully anticipate being able to aim towards both.

The safety of our students begins with the connections that students have with their teachers at Friends’, a connection that promotes open communication and an ability for teachers to notice when something may be amiss.
Our school’s facilities staff constantly review and reflect on the state of our campus as it pertains to safety.

The school was one of the first in Colorado to install keypad entry systems, in 2006. We change the entry code three times a year.

The school has a very well thought out emergency response plan, which we review and update annually. The plan was created in consultation with emergency plan expertsThe plan includes specific actions for our staff to take in the face of a number of emergencies, including fire, flood, tornado, gas or chemical leak, intruder, and other emergencies.  The school practices one emergency drill every month.  The staff is trained in all aspects of the emergency plan. A well-trained, alert and caring staff is one of the best assets we can have in the face of a potential threat.

Over the summer, we undertook a number of upgrades to our campus, all with safety in
"The safety of our students begins with the connections
that students have with their teachers..."

We pulled down our old fence and installed a new one that is a foot higher and more secure.  The new fence stands at six feet. (We are aware of the stickiness of the gate from the elementary playground and we are working on a solution.)

We also made several significant repairs to the playhouse, to the swing set, and to the big play structure on the elementary school playground, including replacing some of the large upright supporting posts. Thank you to our Spanish teacher Kelly Usubillaga and her husband Juan for re-designing and re-tying all of the ropes on the play structures.

I am very grateful to Jen Cope, our Director of Finance and Operations, and to Dacia Horn, our Facilities & Operations Manager, for all the additional work they took on this summer managing the improvements.  (We also put a brand new roof on the elementary building.)

Safety also means keeping our kids as healthy as possible –a timely topic given the local appearance of the Enterovirus (parents, please see my letter that was sent to you on this topic on September 11th.) Friends' School's teaching staff is fully trained in Universal Precautions and takes measures to ensure that our students stay healthy in our clean facility by encouraging handwashing and other helpful practices.

To promote safety wherever we can, we have a strong staff presence in the parking lot and at the doors during all elementary and preschool drop-off and pick-up times. Please help us by not using your cellphone while driving on school property.

We do not open the gate to the elementary school playground at pick-up time and it is only open in the mornings with teacher supervision. All entry is through the front door of each building.

We are constantly thinking about potential upgrades that are appropriate and necessary to improve the safety of our school, while not unduly compromising the welcoming culture that is essential to our identity.

Thank you all for your attention to these matters.  We are a strong community. We always welcome your engagement, feedback and involvement, and we appreciate all you do to make our community thrive.

Thank you for entrusting us with your children. 

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