December 7, 2016
Thoughts from Tuesday Night
Dear Loma/CT Families:
Student safety is our top concern. When tragedies strike like the terrible warehouse fire in Oakland, questions typically arise and deserve thoughtful response. First responders deserve to be met with facilities and circumstances that will best support their heroic work to save lives and property. It is with tremendous respect and appreciation for fire and other emergency responders that I reflect on this tonight. Some of “our own” were on the front line in Oakland this week. While we can’t help them at the moment, we can help prepare our facilities to be defensible if terrible circumstances arise. Of course the context of a warehouse being used outside of code restrictions is very different than elementary and middle schools. Regardless, it is worth pointing out the behind the scenes efforts that go into assuring student safety.
At the most basic level, our schools are well built, in very good physical condition, and are well maintained by a dedicated team. While the Department of the State Architect is burdensome to deal with bureaucratically, the agency’s attention to detail and building code compliance is fundamental to foundational levels of well-constructed schools from the ground up. No corners are cut. Schools are built to the very highest standards of code. Our schools built in the 90’s and 2000’s are considered young by school construction standards. Schools are not required to have sprinkler systems as no one sleeps in the buildings, but all our buildings have audible fire alarms. CT English, as well as the gym and portable buildings, have “monitored” fire alarms that automatically alert the 911 system when activated. Loma, due to its age, does not have a monitored system installed, but adding one has been made a top priority by the Board in the facilities master plan adopted this fall.
Even beyond building standards, we are highly regulated and regularly inspected by the Fire Marshal’s offices in both Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. The annual inspections cover both building and classroom walkthroughs including detection of clutter, excess décor, unsafe electrical usages, assurance of accessible exit routes, review of furniture placements, certification of every fire extinguisher, and much more. These annual inspections are complimented locally with monthly inspections and testing of all facilities and equipment. Our maintenance and custodial staff perform daily inspections for fire and other hazards as they move about their daily tasks, including regular removal of excess paper and other potentially flammable items and reminders to staff, as needed, about keeping exit paths and doorways clear. Our efforts are continuous, extensive, and taken very seriously.
Of course, the cornerstone of fire safety in schools is the routine practice of the classic fire drill. Our goal is to have students become so familiar with the routine, that it becomes second nature. The reality of this is evidenced in how well our students and staff perform during these drills. These practice sessions are taken seriously by teachers, staff and students. It’s quite impressive actually – calm, orderly and quiet. An interesting fact was shared by a safety expert at a recent staff development day. School fires used to be a cause of heavy losses of life. About 50 years ago, after a particularly tragic loss, fire drills became required in all public schools. In the 50 years since this practice became standardized, there have been ZERO deaths in public school fires. I probably should have led with this fact, but the rest of the background on how we deal with student safety on an organizational level is important.
You have entrusted us to both educate and keep your kids safe. We all take the totality of that responsibility to heart. Every bus driver, janitor, teacher, student support staff, facilities team member, manager, IT tech, and administrator is equally committed to safe and effective schools. You have a great team working for your kids. Their safety is always a top priority. Thank you for all the ways you partner with us to provide our community with schools in which we can all take pride.
Student Photo Makeup Day is TOMORROW - December 8, 2016
Loma Prieta Elementary and CT English Middle schools will hold a student photo make up session during the day tomorrow.
Wild Times @ CT English MS
Early Release EVERY Wednesday @ 1:30 pm
12/8/16 Picture Make-up Day & school panoramic photo day
12/14/16 School Board Meeting 6:30pm Loma Forum
12/22/16 Minimum Day 12:30 dismissal
12/23/16 through 1/6/17-NO SCHOOL-December Break
1/9/2017 School resumes
1/13/17 End of Quarter 2 grading period
1/16/17 NO SCHOOL-Martin Luther King Holiday
1/17/17 NO SCHOOL-Staff Development Day (no students)
1/18/17 CT HSC meeting 8:30am shared portable office bld.
1/27/17 CT Science Fair in the Gym
1/27/17 Quarter 2 report cards hand carried home by students
1/27/17 CT Skate Night at Sharks Ice