With school set to resume Wednesday, I know that keeping our students safe is a top concern we all share. Across the District over the summer, crews have been working hard to make our campuses as safe as possible. They are placing perimeter fencing at a number of sites. They are opening bids for the installation of campus cameras. They are installing “lockbloks” that secure doors from the inside.
We have worked with local law enforcement to develop protocols and training for all staff in the event of a dangerous campus incident. Lockdown drills are being scheduled and institutionalized.
We are very mindful of the “emotional safety” of our students, because dealing with bullying and harassment often leads to anxiety and depression. We now have social workers available at all sites, as well as initial mindfulness training through our advisement periods. Research has shown that establishing a culture of empathy and caring on campus could prevent a great deal of school violence.
The big news in AUHSD concerning school safety is the installation of a digital mapping system at Anaheim High School that will speed up law enforcement response time and save lives should the worst happen on campus. The mapping incorporated 15,000, 360-degree, high-resolution campus photos with up-to-date floor plans, aerial maps, and site plans to allow first responders to virtually “walk” throughout the campus.
The digital map is installed on secure AUHSD and Anaheim Police Department servers, which allows access to an immersive panoramic tour of Anaheim High within minutes. Anaheim High is the first school in the nation to implement the digital mapping process. In the queue are Katella and Kennedy high schools. Our long-term goal is to have all of our campuses digitally mapped, and we are working with other law enforcement agencies to help make this happen. (This national news story highlights how schools are grappling with the issue of safety, and it mentions AUHSD’s efforts.)
Most of the conversations I have with community members, especially parents, come back to the question of school safety and what we are doing about the issue. Now, we can point to the digital mapping process as something concrete that has a measurable impact on safety.
The primary responsibility of every school district is to ensure a safe and secure environment for students, staff, and visitors. In fact, safety is the most important issue in education today. I am proud that, as a community, we continue to show a united front around this commitment to maintaining safe learning environments that promote academic achievement and positive school behaviors.
Working together, I am confident we can keep our students safe. Thank you for all you do for the Anaheim Union High School District.
This article was written by Superintendent Matsuda of the Anaheim Union High School District.