On the Journey
news reel: stories of People, places, and learning AT Aspen Country Day School
Over the last couple weeks, I have been thinking a lot about how lucky we are here in Aspen. As the country wrestles with school safety, I find myself trying to balance our open campus that we have come to love at ACDS with the safety realities that we face even in this idyllic environment. As adults on campus, we have no greater responsibility than the safety of your children. As parents, you trust us with your most prized possession every day, and we take that incredibly seriously. In this letter, I want to share a few notes about safety on the Castle Creek campus:
Working closely with law enforcement:
As ACDS is located in Pitkin County, our law enforcement partner is the Pitkin County Sheriff's Department. The department has been a valuable resource for our school, and a positive relationship has been extremely helpful. You may have noticed more law enforcement presence on campus; deputies are increasing their visibility at ACDS as well as at other valley schools.
Updated emergency response plan:
Aspen Country Day School operates with a required emergency response plan. It contemplates a variety of situations such as fire, flood, road closure, wildlife, or an attack from a shooter. It describes emergency protocols for each scenario. The plan is reviewed annually and shared with local law enforcement and emergency personnel.
Knowledge of protocols:
Training for school faculty and staff is important and practiced throughout the year. A few weeks ago, Bruce Benjamin, a school resource officer from the sheriff's department, led our faculty in an analysis of the safety protocol in use at our school, something we have done many times over the years at Country Day. ACDS uses the "Standard Response Protocol" developed by the national I Love You Guys Foundation. It provides a common language and instructions for what to do in an emergency, whether the situation merits a lockdown, lockout, evacuation, or shelter. (You may have seen the SRP posters in classrooms or hallways; example shown.)
This week's drills:
After school yesterday, all faculty and staff practiced a full lockdown. In this realistic drill, Sheriff's deputies worked with us as we "responded" to an emergency situation in both the Lower School and Middle School buildings. Then, as a group, we engaged in a debrief and learned from each other and from the deputies how best to react in an emergency. We learned a lot about our campus and our systems. We also have a better understanding for areas of improvement and have set the stage for future drills that will include children.
It is important to keep in mind that we live in an area that is remarkably safe with excellent law enforcement. Here on campus, teachers, parents, and children are constantly engaging with and looking out for one another. We all value a secure environment where children can learn and friendships can thrive.
Thank you for your partnership and support,