Given the recent tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida; I want to assure you that at MOC-Floyd Valley we are doing our very best to keep our students and staff members as safe as possible! In the paragraphs that follow, I will share some information that will give you a glimpse into our efforts and thinking regarding student/staff safety.
Building Security – Each of our buildings is locked during the school day. Visitors are granted access only after office personnel are able to view them on a camera and then electronically unlock the doors to allow entrance. All visitors are expected to check in at the office immediately after entering.
Classroom Doors – We are in the process of installing door handles that are lockable from the inside on all of our classroom doors. We are over 80 percent finished with this project with completion scheduled for August of 2018.
Cameras – Cameras are now installed and operating on all of the District buses. In addition, we recently updated our existing building cameras and added several more. Both the high school and middle school have cameras throughout the inside and outside. The elementary schools have cameras at the entrances and on the bus loading zones.
Emergency Plans – This past summer, Sioux County Sheriff’s Deputies Nate Huizenga and Waylon Pollema, Orange City Police Chief Jim Pottebaum, and Tim Zeutenhorst of Van Engelenhoven Insurance met with us to review and update our emergency incident plans. In addition, they toured the buildings and grounds and provided us with recommendations for making the District as safe as possible.
A.L.I.C.E. System – In 2013, MOC-Floyd Valley implemented the A.L.I.C.E. (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) system as our planned response in the case of an active shooter in our buildings. All staff are trained on this system and as recently as this summer conducted drills with law enforcement officials from the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office and the Orange City Police Department. In addition, these same law enforcement officials come in each year and train our students. The training is age appropriate and is delivered to inform and prepare the students without creating undue anxiety.
Bus Safety – Highway Patrolman Vince Kurtz and Deputy Pollema conducted emergency training with all of our bus drivers prior to the start of school. Drivers were able to process different ways to handle dangerous situations on the bus. Students also participate in bus evacuation drills each year. Finally, drivers and classroom teachers periodically review bus safety & behavior guidelines with students.
Bad Weather Decisions – This is not a perfect science, but transportation director, John Van Wyk, and I check roads whenever the weather is suspect. In addition to conferring with each other, we are in constant communication with area superintendents and transportation directors. We try to minimize risk for our students while dealing with the realities of winter in Iowa. Please note, that if you ever choose to keep your child home because you are concerned about the road conditions, we will accept your decision and the absence will be excused.
Inside Recess – We all know how important recess is for students – physically, and to enhance learning. Whenever possible elementary students will have outside recess. Our rule of thumb is that recess moves indoors if the wind chill is below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
Student Mental Health and Well Being– Staff members have received training on serving and supporting students who are dealing with trauma of any kind. We are certainly not experts, but we strive to show students and families that we care and want to support them. We have specific anti-bullying efforts at each level, and we try to model, expect, and emphasize our District belief statements of caring, cooperation, effort, responsibility, respect, excellence, integrity, and creativity. We work directly with parents and mental health providers to insure that students have access to services.
Digital Safety – Technology is an important part of functioning well in our world. That being said, it is a tool that must be used responsibly or it can become detrimental. We teach digital citizenship and responsible use at all levels. While we provide electronic devices to our students, we have clear expectations regarding their use at school. I want to encourage all parents to establish and uphold your expectations at home as well. Recognizing the positive power of technology should never blind us to the danger associated with too much screen time or irresponsible use of that technology.
Work with Law Enforcement – We have a very strong, positive working relationship with our local law enforcement officials. To illustrate, we recently had a parent contact us about a potential concern. We were in constant conversation with our local police department and were able to address the situation in a manner that served everyone well. Both the Orange City Police Department and the Sioux County Sheriff’s Department have a strong, positive presence in our schools, and a high level of trust and cooperation exists between them and the MOC-Floyd Valley Community School District.
It is an honor for us to love, serve and teach our students. We are thankful for the opportunity and for the partnership with families and community members. It truly does “take a village to raise a child,” and we are fortunate to reside in this “village.”