Whether keeping better tabs on sex offenders, having students wear ID badges or guarding against another cyber attack, Floyd County Schools is all about safety and security these days.
Throughout Monday’s Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Wilson and his staff touched on the importance of keeping students and district staff safe.
“(Student ID badges) are going to be a little bit of an adjustment and we ask parents to be patient and support us on this,” Wilson said, explaining that after a school bus accident this past year, many students were so traumatized, they couldn’t tell first responders their names. “Most of our middle schoolers are telling me they don’t like the picture and so they’re coming to us and that’s fine. They can just turn the badge around. But it’s a safety thing and we want to make people aware of what we’re doing to protect our kids.”
Protecting students also is the reason for adopting a new visitor check in system known as Raptor. Visitors’ driver’s licenses will be cross checked with the the National Sex Offender database to ensure offenders who are supposed to stay away from schools are not permitted on school premises.
Wilson explained after the meeting that the measure is not meant to punish a parent who might be in the database for whatever reason.
“We can certainly have a meeting with them to find a solution if there is a need to be on school grounds to pick up a child,” Wilson said. “Most parents expect us to keep sex offenders out of a building if we know they are in the database, though.”
As for the cyber security breach that hit the district last week, Wilson said it was nothing like the Equifax breach where customer financial and important identifying pieces of information were stolen. This one involved names, addresses and phone numbers, which is still concerning.
“We’ve done a number of things to ensure we are as safe as we can possibly be as far as cyber security,” Wilson said. “The biggest issue is anybody with an email account, if they click on the wrong thing, we’re in trouble. So we are being attacked all the time. We’re doing a lot of backing up and have spent a good amount of money to protect our system, but it would cost us hundreds and hundreds of thousands to rebuild our system if there was a major breach.”
Protecting the emotional well-being of students also is a priority for the district. This has led the district to adopt into its secondary curriculum a program known as Habitudes. This is similar to the Capturing Kids Hearts program in elementary schools, explained Asst. Superintendent John Parker.
“Social/emotional curriculum has been a hot-button issue,” Parker said. “We believe this particular program is highly effective and luckily it was cost effective.”
A short video of the Habitudes program explained that the large number of college graduates moving back home and not feeling prepared for the job market has caused the need for helping young people “move from the backpack to the brief case” by giving them more emotional support earlier on.
“The adult world has never been more complex and the adolescent world has never been more pleasurable,” the video stated, explaining that positive, motivational images and experiences are utilized to help students realize they can be successful. “It helps kids grow up. It uses character-building exercises to build future leaders.”