An Open Letter from Superintendent Jon Sills: Students and Safety in Bedford Schools

Dear Students, Families and Faculty,

Please know that Bedford has long participated in regular training and student safety drills, most recently using the more adaptive ALICE protocols, and our district crisis team meets regularly throughout the year.  We have an excellent relationship with the Bedford Police Department, and we belong to a consortium of towns, schools and police departments that lend each other assistance when needed.  We strive always to be alert to student behaviors that signal concerns and to create strong student/adult relationships that make student sharing of critical information something we can count on. We remain resolutely committed to providing a safe environment for children to learn and grow.

As I am sure that you are aware, following the tragic events in Parkland, Florida, March 14 has been designated by many as a day of protest, with students and staff planning to walk out of schools for 17 minutes to stand for school safety.

I will be meeting on Wednesday with all four principals, and subsequently with the chief of police, student leaders, and faculty to prepare for Bedford’s role in this evolving national civic discourse.  Of primary importance prior to the 14th will be our planning for student safety, clear communication protocols, developmentally appropriate messaging, options for students who choose not to participate, and an understanding of the personal impact of each person’s participation.

Active civic participation is a cherished BPS value, and we are unequivocal about the need to improve school safety.  Regardless of what solutions we may personally believe in, as an institution, however, the school district must consider this expected walk-out in the broader context of walk-outs generally, as this may well be one of others to come, on this or on any number of issues.  This is why it is particularly important that we have a clear plan of action for the 14th.  Please stay tuned.

Jon Sills, Superintendent
Bedford Public Schools

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