ENGAGE is the newsletter of the Head of School. His message to parents is reproduced here.
The health and safety of all students is a top priority. The 2017–2018 academic year has brought this topic into focus: Not only have we faced challenges locally (October’s wildfires) and nationally (continuing incidents of campus gun violence), but we have also been proactive in taking steps to make our campus community safer and healthier. I acknowledge that many parents have questions and concerns, so I’m writing today with a progress report from our new Health and Safety Committee.
Before getting to the report, some brief notes:
- I am looking forward to seeing you at the Spring Benefit on Saturday. Thank you to our volunteer and staff leaders for planning a wonderful event for our community.
- As you know, PBS has a unique Curriculum Deep Dive program, a faculty-driven curriculum review process that touches each part of the PBS program over the span of three years. The week after Graduation, three faculty teams will focus on mathematics, technology, and Spanish. This spring, we are visiting the seven middle schools that most PBS graduates attend to gather information supporting the math review, in particular.
- We are currently gathering information for PBS’s self-study, a lengthy report to our accrediting organizations. It will guide our accreditation process, which occurs every seven years. Our Accreditation Steering Committee will meet in mid-June to pull together work-to-date and begin the writing process. We'll submit our self-study in December, in advance of a winter visit by an Accreditation Visiting Committee made up of peers from independent schools across California. I view this regular accreditation process as an opportunity to gain new insights about school strengths and growth opportunities. We are accomplishing that by taking a deep dive into all aspects of our school.
Health and Safety Committee Report
- PBS has assembled a permanent team of staff and administrators responsible for evaluating our health and safety procedures in a formal, ongoing way, aiming to support Health and Student Services Coordinator Bailey Bussell in her role and bringing a wealth of experience and expertise to bear on this topic. The committee, led by Ms. Bussell, consists of members of the administrative, business, communications, and technology teams; they consult with faculty members, our liaison at the Menlo Park Police Department, and other experts as needed to ensure the school is getting the best advice on student health and safety.
- The school implemented a new food-safety policy designed to safeguard members of our community with severe allergies.
- The communications office designed and printed emergency procedure cards that hang by the door in each classroom, providing quick access to proper procedures in case of an emergency.
- The school responded to the diminished air quality caused by last fall’s wildfires by monitoring air quality throughout each day; establishing an air-quality procedure to enable quick, decisive action; and communicating clearly to parents, faculty, and staff when measures were required to safeguard the respiratory health of the community.
- The technology team overhauled our emergency contact system and began regular updates of parent and employee contact information in that system.
- In addition to the standard emergency drills (10 fire, 3 earthquake, and 2 lockdown), the school ran two drills that included parental notifications to test the emergency contact system. This will be a permanent addition to our annual drill regimen.
- Members of the Health and Safety Committee met with the school’s liaison at the Menlo Park Police Department to discuss best-practices for campus lockdowns and to evaluate our existing policies and procedures.
- The school has shared information with the community about ongoing local security and safety concerns in a timely and measured way.
- The school’s technology team has partnered with a cybersecurity firm to ensure that the school’s systems are protected from phishing and other attempts to access confidential student, family, and employee data.
- The Health and Safety Committee will review our lockdown procedures and implement recommended additions, including a “shelter-in-place” procedure separate from a full lockdown.
- The committee will also review and update the school’s emergency procedures, as well as our temporary closure and business continuity plans.
- The school will work with La Entrada Middle School to increase cooperation for crisis planning and to ensure that lines of emergency communication are open between our two schools.
- The technology team will develop a solution to include emergency contacts listed in student records to be added to the emergency contact system.
- The school will investigate options for a public address system on campus that will increase the volume of announcements and alerts and will broadcast alerts to more places on campus, to ensure the safety of all those on campus.
- The Health and Safety Committee would like to bring more experts to campus to assess campus security and make recommendations about what enhancements or changes will have the greatest impact on the safety of our community.
- The committee will also plan a focus group to listen to parent concerns, as well as a Family Education session to share lessons learned and next steps.
- The school will focus on proper implementation of revised procedures, increased training of faculty and staff on emergency procedures, and working with our local partners (Menlo Park PD, La Entrada) to strengthen those relationships.
- The technology team will continue implementation of the Center for Internet Security’s CIS Controls, a prioritized set of actions to protect organizations and data from known cyber attack vectors.
We’re proud of the work we’ve done for our students and our community, and we know there is always more to be done. We’re confident in the importance of the actions we’ve taken so far and that our trajectory is one that will help us identify the appropriate next-steps for our school. If you have any questions or if you’re interested in joining the focus group mentioned above, please contact Bailey Bussell, health and student services coordinator, and Michael Lavigne Jr., communications manager – both members of the Health and Safety Committee.
Scott Erickson has been Head of School at PBS since 2011. In that time, he has focused on curriculum growth, faculty support and professional development, expanding parent and community relationships, partnering with the board to strengthen the school’s financial position, and developing and implementing the school’s Strategic Action Plan. Scott enjoys reading, public speaking, projects at home, exercise, traveling, and time with family, friends, and pets.