…from Principal Mary Croteau
One of our expectations for school has been that it would be a safe, positive learning environment for your children. Please know that we will continue to do our best to continue this important characteristic of a school. Unfortunately, we have had to learn lessons from places like Newtown and even our local news where people accidentally drive through store fronts. For this reason, things may look a little different now at St. Joseph’s in comparison with the past.
Beginning last year, we made sure that all doors, including the kitchen door, were left locked at all times. While this can be inconvenient when using the gym for a game, it is safer to have someone monitor the door during a game, then to let anyone walk in. Our entrance is our main entrance opposite the main office during school hours, and the ECP entrance at the door furthest from Main Street, before and after school hours. Beginning last year, we required that all visitors not only sign in, but wear passes. Our one exception has been preschool parents who are hand delivering their children to class. All staff have been asked to wear their IDs.
We have regular checks of work and safety of our heating system and our elevator. We have unannounced visits from the health department of our kitchen. Periodically, we have visits to check our site for asbestos. We have it in a few, out of the way places, and it is contained. The rest of the asbestos was removed years ago. During this inspection, the first since I have been here, we were reminded of an area that we were requested to check at the last inspection. We had that area checked, and there is no asbestos. However, the ceiling in the first floor boys’ bathroom, the ceiling checked, was in poor condition so it has been repaired and repainted now that we know it is clear of asbestos. The floor tiles in that bathroom lifted, so the next project will be the replacement of that floor. Since the stalls in the boys’ bathroom were deteriorating, they will be replaced. We are in the process of researching how this can be taken care of. While my preference would be preventive maintenance, we have years of limited maintenance to take care of. Last summer, the staircases and the third floor were painted, completing the painting done by parent volunteers and me.
This year, the new Superintendent requested that we schedule a safety visit with the Dept. of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division of the NH Department of Safety. Mr. Nichols invited the local fire and police departments to join us in our school walkthrough, interior and exterior. Chief Kenney of the Fire Department joined us September 29, for the walk and has been helpful in providing additional suggestions. We will have to evaluate the suggestions, and determine how we will respond. One of the suggestions involved placing bollards by the three exterior doors that could be driven into. You may have noticed as you drive around and look at businesses, that many have placed large flower pots blocking their doors. So, as a soft, non-threatening response until we can determine our fix, we moved the beautiful flowers donated by a grandmother who prefers to remain anonymous, using the expertise of Ford’s Flowers. Those three pots are in front of the main entrance. They are giving us some idea of the location and size of whatever we use. Thank you for your gracious acceptance of this change, just as the donor graciously accepted their changed use. Just as a reminder, there is no general parking next to the main door. There is one space for the principal who sometimes needs to get in and out during the school day, one spot for the kitchen staff, one space which is received as a winning auction bid, and one short term spot by the door for a parent coming in for a sick child, or dropping off a pair of sneakers.
Mr. Nichols has made several suggestions. We will be convening a building safety meeting to consider what we may do now, and what we might plan to do for the future. We have already made some changes like removing the screen door from the kitchen.
Each and every effort is done with safety as the priority. I will continue to keep you updated.
May God lead your path.
Click here for the September Issue of the Safety Educator.
Click here for the September Issue of the One Stop Educator.