Dear Hopewell Area School District family,
It is a privilege to educate your son or daughter each and every day in our District. We want each student to maximize their academic gifts and talents and to be prepared for college and/or career. We also value in our partnership with parents to help each child develop personally and socially. Above all, however, the safety of each child must be a top priority.
We want to assure parents that our District remains proactive in the protection of its students, faculty and staff members, and recognize that safety and security are a top priority. The Hopewell Board of School District approved extensive upgrades to the security system in June 2018 and we anticipate the project’s completion by September 2018. The following are some of the upgrades that will be in place In our buildings before the school year begins, or shortly thereafter:
= Over 200 new interior and exterior video cameras throughout the District
= Video system connection to local police and 911 center
= Several Panic buttons in each building that connect to 911 and police for immediate assistance
= Enhanced outside video and voice entry system for building access
= Video Monitors for offices for monitoring
= Access and monitoring of building entry through Staff ID system
= Visitor badging system in each building
= Upgraded alarm system
= Captured entrance at the high school (all other buildings already have captured entrances)
As many of these upgrades are implemented, please know that our procedures may change for students, staff, and parents. We will keep all stakeholders informed of changes, but we appreciate your patience as we revise our current procedures and make necessary changes.
In addition, the District has cultivated an excellent relationship with our local police and other first responders. Hopewell and Independence Township Police maintain a visible presence in all of our schools. Working with police, the District conducts various safety drills throughout each school year and continues to train all of our staff and students on how they may react decisively in the event of potentially life-threatening situations. We are continuing to refine trainings for staff in order to provide the most appropriate drills for all of our students. Each building will have at least two drills each year in addition to the fire drills we hold monthly. When we have a safety drill, we will use our Parent Phone Blast System to share this information.
Our District has upgraded emergency plans over the summer and trained all staff on expectations. These comprehensive safety and security procedures will be reviewed with all teachers and staff members on a regular basis throughout the school year.
In addition, our District has a crisis team that reviews and updates procedures several times per school year. All staff members are encouraged to report any incident, no matter how minor, to their principal or to the main office staff in their building immediately. We also have school counselors who are available to support your son or daughter if they are having personal, academic, or social struggles. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to them to ask for assistance.
We have also partnered with Family Behavioral Resources, a therapeutic support, that provides services in each of our buildings. This is not a school district service, however, we provide the meeting space in each of our buildings so that if your child is in need of a therapist, he or she can have appointments during the school day.
Additionally, parents are encouraged to remind your children to communicate any safety concerns that they may have to a teacher, school counselor, principal or to another adult as soon as possible. Remind them that if they “see something, say something.” We also encourage parents to contact school personnel if they have any concerns regarding student safety.
We also ask for your help in monitoring your son or daughter’s use of social media. So many times, our students become aware of safety concerns via social media. Your parental involvement is critical in helping students to make responsible decisions regarding social media use.
Safety and security are sometimes difficult conversations to have with children and with media coverage being intense at time, the topic can cause many emotions in children. Parents may have additional questions about how to talk with their children about such topics or tragedies. There are several online resources available to help parents address their children’s concerns. Below are just a few of those resources:
The Fred Rogers Company — Tragic Events
Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh — How to Respond to Children When Tragedy Occurs www.chp.edu/for-parents/health-tools/parent-resources/parenting-tips/when-tragedy-occurs
National Association of School Psychologists — Talking with Children About Violence www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-safety-and-crisis/talking-to-children-about-violence-tips-for-parents-and-teachers
The Hopewell Area School District will continue to take the necessary steps to safeguard our students and staff members by providing a secure learning environment.
Dr. Michelle Miller