Teachers, principals, and staff members are ready to welcome Washoe County School District (WCSD) students who are scheduled to return to school on Monday, Jan. 7 following the two-week winter break. Students began their break just days after the tragic events in Newton, Conn., and counselors will be standing by to help any students who need extra support as they return to school.
"We hope students have enjoyed the break and are ready to resume their hard work," said Superintendent Pedro Martinez. "They left for winter break during a difficult time for our entire country, and we are all looking forward to helping them resume their normal routines in school."
"We are anxious to see our students return to their classrooms," said WCSD Police Chief Mike Mieras. "Our officers really enjoy working hand in hand with our students and staff to keep our schools safe. Security is always our first priority, and we continue to focus on our training exercises, school drills, and a variety of other activities and procedures designed to keep our schools as safe as they can possibly be."
When classes were dismissed before winter break, the nation was still reeling in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. In the days following, District counselors and psychologists offered intensive support to students and staff, helping them deal with their feelings and concerns. WCSD also posted a resource page on its website containing links to counseling advice and services for the entire community. Superintendent Martinez sent letters to parents, offering his condolences to the families in Newtown and information about WCSD counseling services available for any child in need. Parents were encouraged to post questions to Chief Mieras about school security measures in the "Ask the Chief" section on the District website.
In light of the events in Connecticut, Washoe County School District Police officers used the winter break to re-examine District security procedures and policies. This is part of an ongoing effort to continually improve procedures to be used in the event of any emergency, including natural disasters like earthquakes or floods and manmade disasters like threats of violence on campus.
Officers will also participate in a regional tabletop training exercise next week with other emergency management agencies to reinforce security procedures in schools. This training will focus on incident management, mass casualty care, emergency operations, and communications during a simulated emergency at a school site.
"We are constantly training our staff and students to be ready in case of any emergency," Mieras said. "We care deeply for all of the children and adults who spend their days in our schools. While we hope to never handle such an emergency at one of our schools, we know we must be ready in case it happens, and we are."
From Washoe County School District