Freeport School’s highest priority is the safety, security and well being of our students at our schools. Although we have always had many safety measures in place, we have been upgrading and refining our facilities and security protocols to build a culture of security awareness for everyone. We have been working with police officials including the Freeport Police Department, the Nassau County Police Department and homeland security to provide information and extensive training for administrators, staff and security.
Some improvements are secured entry vestibules, single point entries and panic and lockdown buttons with additional security personnel at the elementary schools. Our comprehensive district-wide security camera system is consistently monitored. All schools are compliant with the state practice drill requirements and safety plans. Our staff and students are trained and practice following the necessary safety procedures.
Besides physical safety, we care about the mental well being of our students. With an increase nationwide in serious mental illness in youth, Freeport Schools ensures we have numerous support systems in place in our schools and partnerships with outside agencies to best meet the needs of any of our students who are experiencing mental health difficulties. While we are ready to assist any child with mental health issues, we are very much proactive in working to ensure our students are well adjusted. Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is a hierarchy of skills that address self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, relationship building, and responsible decision-making. Research shows that students with SEL competency perform better academically, have improved attitudes, fewer negative behaviors, and reduced emotional stress. We have SEL programs from pre-k through twelfth grade to teach our students the skills needed to become responsible, empathetic citizens.
The New York State Department of Education has recently provided guidelines for SEL including recommended standards. We had already been aligning our SEL programs to standards and will continue to provide our students with SEL competencies. By supporting the whole child, we work to keep our students safe and healthy.
In addition to physical safety and mental well being, we are also concerned about the safety of our students as they navigate technology and social media. It is important our students become responsible digital citizens. Responsible digital citizenship includes respecting intellectual property, respecting yourself and others through appropriate interactions, and protecting yourself and others online. Students must follow proper online etiquette by using appropriate language, listening to other opinions, and disagreeing respectfully.
Our students are learning to maintain their privacy, not to share their personal information, and to use caution when interacting with others, especially strangers, online. They should report any disturbing occurrences and online bullying. If they are not comfortable in reporting to an adult, our middle and high school students can use Anonymous Alerts. Anonymous Alerts can be used to report any concerns about bullying, drugs, suicidal ideation, or other concerning matters; administrators follow-up on these reports.
Communicating and sharing through social media has become a way of life. Unfortunately, social media is not always used in a respectful and mature manner. Our students must be mindful of what they have written before they decide to post it. The digital world is permanent and they are building a digital footprint. As educators and parents, we must reinforce that our children think of the impact their post will have on themselves and others.
Freeport Public Schools is completely invested in the education of the whole child. This includes the well being and safety of our students physically, mentally and in the virtual world online. Working together with parents and the community, our children will grow to be safe, responsible citizens in all that they do.