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With the 2018-19 school year well underway, daily routines have become familiar again. In Orono Schools, one area that will never become routine or taken for granted is the safety of our students and staff.
We want to take this opportunity to brief you on what’s happening in our schools and on our campus to keep learning environments safe and productive.
The biggest change from last year is the reconstruction of Old Crystal Bay Road. With fewer access points and the addition of turn lanes, traffic flow has improved greatly. Additional sidewalks and an enhanced pedestrian crossing between Orono High School and Orono Middle School will help keep pedestrians out of harm’s way. The walk with enhanced crossing signals will be coming later this fall. To learn more about the new crossing signals, please watch this short video: https://youtu.be/ZHAdXbZgYrU
These improvements would not have been possible without the support of the City of Orono. The city involved us in planning the project and worked closely with us to minimize disruptions once construction had started.
We thank you for your patience with all of the construction this summer and your cooperation with getting to know the road’s new configuration and new drop off/pick up procedures.
Orono Schools submitted grant proposals for each of its buildings to receive funding under the Safe and Secure Schools Act passed by the Minnesota Legislature in 2018. The Minnesota Department of Education received a total of 1,187 complete applications that requested $255.5 million—more than 10 times the available amount of funding ($25 million). Ninety Minnesota public schools districts or charter schools were awarded school safety grants to be used for security and violence prevention improvements at 123 building sites across the state. Unfortunately Orono did not receive any grant funding, but we will continue to make improvements as our current health and safety funding allows.
Addressing the shortfall of funding for grant applications, Commissioner of Education Brenda Cassellius called for a more comprehensive approach. Being proactive by improving school climate is a long-standing practice in Orono. Building on our work in character education and focus on relationships, we are continuing efforts this year in cultural competency and restorative practices to ensure all students feel welcome and valued.
Last year, we began training staff in the enhanced lockdown protocol known as Run-Hide-Fight. In the near future, students at Orono Middle School and Orono High School will be trained. We created a video to help us with this, which we shared with you last year. This video might be a bit disturbing, but its purpose is to educate students and staff about their roles and options in a situation involving an active threat. If you haven’t done so already, we encourage you to watch it first and then watch it with your child(ren). Observe their comfort level and ask if they have any questions or concerns. Our training with staff has gone well and they feel comfortable in sharing this information with secondary students.
The video can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/255953493
In any emergency situation, it is important that we be able to reach you as quickly as possible. Please take a moment to ensure your emergency contact information is up to date. You can verify and change it, if necessary, through the parent portal ParentVUE. Occasionally, a teacher or school may ask for similar information. However, this information is not shared with our central system. That is why you need to make sure it is correct in ParentVUE.
As parents, you are key members of our security team. If you or your child(ren) are concerned by something, please share that information with us. Let your child(ren) know that we encourage them to share with a trusted adult at school.
We greatly appreciate your willingness to share information that might be useful in our efforts and your cooperation with following our procedures.
To a safe and healthy 2018-19,
The Orono Schools Security Team