"Just as many recognize religious dwellings as sacred places, I consider schools as sacred, as safe havens for children, as sanctuaries for learning, and as refuge from the wider world...to protect and to elevate our future, our children," Ossining Union Free School District Dr. Phyllis Glassman told residents at a vigil this week.
Glassman addressed the community Sunday, just two days after the tragic mass shooting at nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.
According to a publicly-released copy of Glassman's speech, the superintendent told residents, "Yes, our schools are 'safe,' according to the nearly textbook-perfect models we implement. Yet, we know that they are never safe enough. Yes, we regularly meet with our Emergency Response Teams. Of course, we will do so once again this week and heighten even further our already rigorous safety and security measures and enhance our vigilance as well."
On Monday, Glassman outlined safety measures taken in the district at the beginning of this week in a districtwide email "O-Blast."
Today, several action steps occurred.
- One: Emergency Response Teams met in our schools and throughout the District.
- Two: The Schools and District Safety Plans were reviewed.
- Three: The importance of careful supervision was underscored.
- Four: Relevant safety and security measures were reviewed.
- Five: Site visits to our schools were conducted.
- Six: “Talking Tips for Teachers” were distributed in the morning.
- Seven: The document “Talking To Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers” was posted on our District Web site as a “Quick Link.”
- Eight: We worked closely in partnership with our Police Department to heighten safety and security.
- Nine: Police volunteered to be even more visible in all of our schools throughout the school day.
- Ten: We reinforced the need for everyone, including parents, to follow District safety protocols.
- Eleven: Our goal for the day focused upon teaching and learning while students were supported in developmentally appropriate ways as needed.
At the vigil, Glassman encouraged community members to "commit to always being here for one another."
She ended her speech with these words: "Thank you for all you do each day to love our children, care for one another, and attempt to create a safer and more positive world for the present and the future."