Safety is our priority l Mukilteo Schools

By Dr. Marci Larsen, Superintendent | Oct 03, 2018

The safety of our students and our staff members, as well as those who visit our campuses and facilities, is one of the most important responsibilities that we have as a school district. A proper learning environment must be free of things or people that could cause them harm.

Safety was a topic that I discussed quite often in this column last year. A school shooting in Florida, as well as an incident involving one of our own students, brought the subject to the forefront last spring. We had a number of public meetings about school safety and hired a national consultant that is analyzing our facilities and our practices to see where they could be improved.

I wrote in this column about how our efforts around safety fall into three broad categories: We are always looking at our facilities to make sure that our buildings and grounds are as secure as they can be, we practice emergency response to make sure students and staff members know what to do if an event happens, and we offer services to support the social and emotional needs of our students.

We also know that safety is a continuing process. The effort is never done. Every time an event happens, there are more lessons to be learned and new practices to be implemented.

A couple of weeks ago, during the annual football game between Kamiak and Mariner high schools, we learned some lessons about our Goddard Stadium. An incident that occurred outside the stadium and not involving students caused those attending the game to quickly evacuate the grandstands.

A group of our administrators met a few days after the incident and discussed what happened that night. Through that conversation, they saw where things could be done better should there be a need to evacuate that facility again someday in the future.

Providing better guidance to those trying to exit was one area that needed improvement, so a few changes were implemented immediately so that they would be in place the following Friday when the next football game was held. The game-day workers and supervisors wore yellow vests, for example, so they could be easily identifiable. The communication links between them were improved and they were issued bullhorns to help with crowd control.

Evacuation maps and directions were made available in ticket booths and at concession stands, the public address announcer read a pre-game statement about safety procedures and was given statements to read during an evacuation, and signage was put in place to make it easier for people to find the exits.

As for security, in addition to the police officers that both schools already hire to help supervise football games, an additional police officer is now hired to patrol the parking lot and the area surrounding Goddard Stadium.

The students and parents who attend a football game on a Friday night, or any other school activity on any other night throughout the year, shouldn’t have to worry about his or her safety. Be assured, we’re always doing our best to help make that a reality.

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