Dear GUSD Families and Staff:
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends and that you had a chance to relax. The three weeks between the Thanksgiving break and the winter break always flies by. This is such a special time of year. I am trying to just enjoy it.
I know the topic of school shootings is uncomfortable and upsetting especially right now after the terrible tragedy in Michigan. Four teenagers died and seven others were shot and injured. This is a serious issue in our country. Since schools reopened this fall, there have been almost 30 shootings on school campuses across the nation. There have been five shootings in California. We hope that there is never a school shooting on a GUSD campus but we have to prepare as if that unlikely event were going to happen. We have taken a number of proactive steps to keep our schools safe from intruders and to prepare for a school shooting and I would like to share some of this information with you.
- One of our top priorities has been to create positive school climates on our campuses so that students feel safe and welcome at their school. There are many components to this approach, including the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) program, robust mental health services from GUSD staff and outside agencies, Restorative Justice practices and other strategies.
- Staff and students are encouraged to “see something, hear something, say something” so that any threats of violence can be investigated in partnership with the Gilroy Police Department.
- All schools in the Gilroy Unified School District, uses the STOPit mobile app for students to anonymously report threats or acts of violence or bullying. For more information, visit: https://www.gilroyunified.org/parentstudent-resources/safety-and-security/stopit-antibullying-app. With STOPit, users can submit anonymous reports containing text, photos, or video using a cell phone or other device.
- All schools are completely enclosed in fencing which was a recommendation by police departments across the nation, including the GPD, following the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting and similar tragedies.
- After the beginning of the school day, our campuses are locked down until dismissal time. Each school site has a single point of entry for people coming onto any of our campuses during the day.
- Sophisticated security systems have been installed at all of our middle and high schools (the level where most school shootings occur).
- One of the major components of our school safety plans are drills: including earthquake drills, fire drills and intruder drills which focus on a school shooting. Intruder drills are scheduled to take place at all of our middle and high schools before the winter break and will be observed by our School Resource Officer (SRO) and School Safety Administrator. Counselors will be available to talk with students and staff if needed.
- In addition to the intruder drills, secondary students are shown the Run, Hide, Defend video that was developed in conjunction with the Gilroy Police Department is now used throughout the County. The video is used to prepare middle and high school students and staff about what to do if there is a shooter on campus. On the day of the drill, teachers give a presentation on safety protocols that should be followed during the drill.
- Although we do not show the Run, Hide, Defend video at the elementary school level, intruder drills are scheduled and the safety protocols are reviewed regularly about what to do if there is an intruder or shooter on campus. Drills will also be held at each elementary school before the winter break.
We need your help! Data that has been collected regarding school shootings indicates that in most school shootings, the shooter told others what they were planning to do in advance of the shooting. It is critical that students and staff speak up if they see or hear something about a school shooting, any kind of potential violence against others, or see behaviors that are alarming or disturbing. Students can report concerns anonymously if they choose using the STOPIT App or they can talk to the administration or another adult who they feel comfortable talking about what they heard or saw.
Parents and guardians: please reinforce how important it is that students “say something, do something”. If you hear something from your child, let your school administrators know immediately. Staff, please talk to the school administration if you hear or see something as soon as it comes to your attention.
Many components of education are only successful when there is a strong partnership between home and school. A commitment to safety for all of the children in our school district is at the top of that list. We must have the partnership and support of staff, students and families as we work together to ensure the safety of our campuses.
In partnership with the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health, another round of vaccination clinics are underway at all seven elementary schools sites. Students of any age in the district are welcome as well as family members and staff. The Las Animas and Eliot clinics were offered this past week. The schedule for the remaining clinics is listed below:
|School Site||Date of vaccination clinic|
|El Roble Elementary||Wednesday, December 8th 3-7:30|
|Rucker Elementary||Thursday, December 9th 3-7:30|
|Glen View Elementary||Friday, December 10th 3-7:30|
|Rod Kelley Elementary||Wednesday, December 15th 3-7:30|
|Luigi Aprea Elementary||Thursday, December 16th 3-7:30|
Almost 37% of 5-11 years olds in the County have already been vaccinated in just a little over a month since emergency authorization was approved by the FDA. This age group is well on the way to reaching the level of the 12-17 age group which is over 90% in just under seven months.
2022 Gilroy Chamber of Commerce Susan Valenta Youth Leadership award winner
On Friday, December 3, I visited the GECA campus to celebrate senior, Alyssa Gonzalez, for receiving the 2022 Susan Valenta Youth Leadership award from the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce. Alyssa dreams of using her influence to impact the world around her. She is part of GECA’s Honors Tribunal as its Attorney General and mentor to younger members. She works to incorporate a restorative approach to the Tribunal’s work, facilitates community circles, and uses her strong moral compass to support others, which impacts her school in many positive ways. She is a the student representative for GECA’s School Site Council and provides valuable insight to the committee about how students feel about different school policies and activities, and presents ideas to SSC to further student success. Alyssa has been instrumental in re-chartering the Interact Club at GECA, and serves as a Youth Commissioner for the City of Gilroy. Her commitment to addressing social justice issues helps to provide meaningful solutions to those issues she finds most important. Alyssa will graduate from GECA with a high school diploma and two Associate’s degrees from Gavilan College: one in Spanish and the other in Natural Sciences. She is a first-generation college student who demonstrates the success that is possible with hard work and the commitment to excellence. Please join us in congratulating Alyssa on receiving this award. We are so very proud of her.
Take care of each other,
Dr. Deborah A. Flores, Ph.D.
Gilroy Unified School District