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Education, empowerment tools to keep children safe

Written by Rohit Shetty

Some parents have described the experience of having a child as having their heart walking around outside their body. They want to keep those most precious to them as safe as possible, while allowing them the freedom to learn and experience their world.

Now that school is back in session, we’ve asked law enforcement and school officials what they’re doing to keep youth safe in our community.

Breckenridge Public Schools has completed physical safety upgrades at both school properties over the past year, many of which came about due to the referendum dollars provided by taxpayers.

Superintendent Diane Cordes explained one major change visitors will see, which was put into place last year, is when coming to either the elementary-middle school or the high school. Visitors must enter through one door into a vestibule. They then press a buzzer to alert the front office workers of their arrival, who determine whether or not to allow them entrance into the office.

Internet safety is always a high priority for parents, and the school district is doing its part to keep students safe while on school property.

“We allow student access through a secure server that is filtered at a deep level, to protect students from getting into places they shouldn’t be,” Cordes said.

Certain words or phrases are on a list of prohibited terms and if a student types those into an online search, the search stops immediately. For words deemed innocuous, a technician can move that word or term onto the approved list to clear it, and there is a procedure to do that.

One technology tool that’s been a big benefit to the district is an emergency response mobile app called Crisis Go, which was integrated last year. The program offers mobile crisis management tools that also connect with law enforcement and allow better communication between staff, administration and emergency responders.

“It allows us to put our pencil and paper emergency plan, whether it’s a natural disaster, a fire, or any kind of intruder that requires a building lockdown, into this technology. There are workarounds if you can’t or don’t want to use the phone lines. It allows a lot of really cool things,” Cordes explained.

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The system also allows teachers to do an electronic roll call and submit to a dashboard that quickly updates all staff in real time, so they can track where students are rather than having to meet face-to-face during an evacuation or other emergency.

Education, empowerment tools to keep children safe

Throughout the school year, students go through several units where they learn about “stranger danger,” they learn about bus safety and hear from law enforcement about ways to stay safe, including using the buddy system.

Cordes said she has spoken with Breckenridge Police Chief Kris Karlgaard, who has some new best practices he wants to share with the schools. Karlgaard shared his tips to keep youth safe while travelling to and from school or to visit friends Web Posting Pro.

“The first thing I want children to be aware of, is to always be observant,” he said. “Pay attention to their surroundings. If something seems abnormal, it probably is. If the hair on the back of their neck is standing up, there’s probably a reason for that and they should pay attention.”

He noted that many school-aged children now have cellphones, which are great communication tools. Children should be taught to notify a trusted adult or call the police as soon as something seems off or not right.

“For example, if they see a vehicle that seems to be following them, that’s what law enforcement is here for. If they’re more comfortable calling their parents first, that’s fine, but they need to call someone or make contact,” he said. “If they’re close to the school, go inside and tell someone.”

Karlgaard said parents should create an open line of communication with their children so they will feel comfortable coming to them to talk.

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Rohit Shetty