Dear BC family:
It was just last week that I wrote to you about a senseless mass shooting in a supermarket in Buffalo. Now, we are equally heartbroken to share in nationwide grief over the horrifying images of another school shooting, this time at an elementary school in Texas.
As your family’s school leader, I understand that sharing my heartbreak and disbelief does nothing to dispel your worry, your concerns or that awful feeling in the pit of your stomach if your child asks you to explain what happened. I certainly can not help make sense of what happened yesterday, but I can do my best to reassure you that safety and security are always at the forefront of the decisions we make here in Bethlehem.
In addition, we have a top-notch counseling team that is always prepared to assist both students and families, especially in times of need. They have shared important resources below for families and they are also helping our staff with resources for talking with students and for supporting staff with their own wellness.
As a school district, we continuously seek out ways to better safeguard the health and well-being of our students and staff, refine our safety practices and review areas for improvement. Below is some information you may want to review about health and safety measures currently in place at BC that are intended to strengthen our school community.
Bethlehem has both a comprehensive district safety plan and building-level safety plans for each of our schools. The district partners with the Bethlehem Police Department and other law enforcement agencies in developing the safety plans, which are reviewed and updated annually. Staff are trained on how to respond in the event of an emergency and drills are practiced throughout the school year. Learn more about our routine drills here.
During the school day, all of our schools have a single point of entry that is locked. Visitors must use an intercom to state their name and the purpose of the visit to gain entry. They also must sign in at the main office with valid identification that is scanned using our Raptor ID system. Video cameras are used on school grounds, in school buildings and on district buses. All seven schools have external security cameras and a network of internal security cameras.
Police are school partners
The middle school and the high school are staffed by full-time School Resource Officers who are members of the Bethlehem Police Department. These officers are integral members of our school community, known to staff and students alike. An officer is also assigned to the elementary schools on a part-time basis.
See something, say something
An anonymous tip line is available to report any behavior that is concerning. The tip line is coordinated and staffed by the Bethlehem Police Department, providing an important resource for students and families in the community. The “see something, say something” confidential tip line number is 518-439-1503. The tip line provides a way to report someone who may be exhibiting signs of dangerous behavior, to themselves or to others.
Student mental health resources
Our Coordinated Health Team provides comprehensive counseling services to our students that emphasize mental health. Prior to COVID, we restructured our K-12 counseling program to offer these services in all of our buildings. We currently have several prevention and intervention services in our schools that support the mental, behavioral and social-emotional health of students and help promote success in the learning process with psychological, social and educational support. There are also mental health resources that BC families (not just students) can access through the Saratoga Center for the Family. You can reach out to your child’s school counselor if you want to access any of these services.
Reaching you in an emergency
To ensure that we can reach you in the event of an emergency, we use the mass notification system School Messenger. The system is used primarily via email to inform parents of happenings at school. In the event of any emergency or when time is of the essence, we are able to use School Messenger to reach families via phone or text message. You must opt-in to receive text messages. You can check to see if you are signed up to receive text messages by texting “Y” to 67587. Parents who need to update their contact information should email District Registrar Melissa Haas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Talking to your children about this news
It can be overwhelming for adults to understand how such terrible things can happen. For children, exposure to these images and information can be unsettling and traumatic. To help parents interpret events for their children in an age-appropriate way, our counseling team is providing the following resources:
- Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers (National Association of School Psychologists)
- Nine Tips for Talking With Kids About Trauma (Greater Good Science Center, UC Berkeley)
Processing the news out of Texas at a time when we are all feeling especially fragile is difficult. Please know that our school community is a strong one and that we will support each other with every resource we have and with all the patience, understanding and empathy our faculty and staff are known for.
If you have questions or if I can be of any assistance to you in any manner, please feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com or at 518-439-7098.
Thank you for your continued support of the Bethlehem Central School District.