As I sit to write this article I am trying to absorb the tragedy that occurred this past week in Newtown, Connecticut. My first reaction was total disbelief. I didn’t want to believe that someone would express the hurt they felt inside by harming innocent young children. After the realization sunk in, I had a deep need to video chat with my 5-year-old granddaughter, who lives in a Chicago suburb. She had just returned
from a Christmas concert and was still excited about singing with her friends. Since I wasn’t able to attend I was honored with a “mini” concert. It was at that moment that I realized how lucky I was to hear that sweet voice and wanted to make sure she always felt safe and loved.
That is the same wish that I have for our children at IKM-Manning. I want them to feel safe at school and KNOW we will work through any difficulties when they arise.
For the kids…it is just that simple. WE ARE HERE FOR THEM.
For the adults, I want you to know that we have plans in place if emergencies occur. The next time you are in the building you may notice red booklets hung inside each
classroom near the door. They can also be found in some hallway locations as well as the offices. These booklets contain procedures that are to be followed for crisis
events that may occur such as bomb threats, strangers on campus, injuries, school evacuation and yes… Shooting/Gun in Building…to name just a few.
You all probably remember fire drills and tornado drills that are practiced four times per year. Well, we also work at the evacuation portion as well. In Manning students get on buses when they leave the building for a fire drill. In Irwin students have practiced walking to a safe location. Buses are always ready at both locations and specific teachers are assigned as “the drivers” just in case a quick exit is necessary.
Class lists are with our teachers during every drill so a habit is formed. If a disaster occurred in our district and students had to be moved to a safe location, the children in Manning would be taken to the Manning Rec Center and the children in Irwin would go to the Irwin Community Center. Our secretaries with the purpose of releasing children into their parents’ care as they arrive would man a command post
at both locations.
Communicating to parents can be done in a couple of different ways. Electronic messages can be sent to those who have signed up through Iowa School Alerts and
to those who have given the school their e-mail address. We have the capabilities of sending mass messages out, which would help keep parents informed.
Parents also need to realize that the teachers and I have also talked about different emergency scenarios. Being aware of our surroundings is extremely important in these situations. If I heard the news reports correctly, there were many teachers who used their common sense and got children out of harms way. They didn’t wait for an alert but knew they had to hide their children to keep them safe. We have those kinds of teachers caring for your children at IKM-Manning. We will do everything we can to keep our kids as safe as possible. If that means more practicing or more security within the building… so be it!
Most importantly of all our kids need to feel safe at school. They need to keep theirinnocence and child-like joy for as long as we can possibly preserve it. They need to
hear from adults that everything is going to be “OK” in their world. So if any student
comes to me and asks….”Mrs. Hammrich, is it safe at our school?” My answer will
be an emphatic… “YES! You are safe and cared for at IKM-Manning!”