Otsego Public Schools was not in session during National School Safety Week in October, but we didn’t let it pass by. Instead, we scheduled it two weeks later and focused our attention on process and preparedness. Each school conducted several drills throughout the week. “We hope by doing it this way, it will emphasize our commitment to school safety and raise awareness for all that is being done to provide a safe environment for our staff and students,” says Jeff Haase, Otsego Public Schools Superintendent.
These drills served as an opportunity to talk with our students before, during and after the drills to further explain to them why we might do them, why they're important or answer their questions. We encourage you to discuss the drills with your children to help them understand and become comfortable with the process. We are required by law to conduct five fire drills, two tornado drills and three lockdown drills. OPS has added evacuation drills to our practice and may add additional lockdown drills, as well. You can read more about the drills on our School Safety webpage. Drills are not done out of panic, but to be prepared in the case of a real emergency.
We know we’ve put a lot of emphasis on safety and procedure this week, but safety is a topic throughout the year. Otsego Public Schools has a District Crisis Team that is always looking at what we can work on and how to be better prepared. This doesn’t just mean emergency situations, but other procedures, such as pick up or drop off, or large events, where we feel we can add safety measures for all involved. Our local law enforcement agencies and the Office of Emergency Management are a part of that team. Those discussions then move down into the building level to work on specifics.
We want to thank the Otsego Police Department, Otsego Fire Department, Allegan County Sheriff’s Department, Allegan County Office of Emergency Management, Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department, Kalamazoo County Office of Emergency Management and the Alamo township Fire Department for assisting us in some of our drills this week. They would be by our side in a real emergency, so we appreciate them joining us and providing guidance and feedback during these preparedness activities.
And thank you, our school family and community, for your part in this effort, "We are fortunate to have a strong school and local community and appreciate your support and commitment to our staff and students," Haase says.