The safety of Payson Schools is often on my mind. Every day when school ends and our students arrive home safely; our busses are neatly lined up in the transportation yard; the two-way radio on my desk hasn’t chirped an emergency call and when “not a creature is stirring,” I celebrate another good day at Payson Unified School District. Every normal, routine day is a gift. 

There are no guarantees in life and incidents occur with little warning. Endless possibilities exist for mishaps, misadventures, mistakes and mayhem. Drills, staff training and threat assessment keep our defenses sharp. Plans and protocols prepare us for the real thing.

PUSD offered emergency operations professional development for certified, classified and substitute staff last summer. The emphasis was on strengthening classroom lockdowns with developmentally appropriate (fear-free) drills. We explored lockdown drills from kindergarten (teachers have to explain and reassure) through high school (students don’t take drills seriously). In a recent event involving a credible threat, high school students made us proud with their conduct. They took the lockdown very seriously.

I never want our students to miss a day of school where they will prepare for the future in a STEAM lab, perform in a play, band or choir, make new friends, master difficult concepts, read books, win scholarships and become leaders. 

For all these reasons, our emergency operations work continues. We’ll never let up because no matter how normal or routine a school day is, it’s always a priceless gift.

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