This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
by Carrie Hagen
Karen Thomas, principal of Cook-Wissahickon Elementary School, recognizes how easily schools can take safety for granted.
"In a neighborhood like we’re in," she says, "we feel pretty safe." But in light of the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., and the kidnapping that occurred inside Bryant Elementary in West Philadelphia, Thomas and her staff have evaluated and tightened their student safety procedures.
Last week, Thomas sent a letter to parents and caregivers outlining changes in the school’s dismissal procedures and its expectations for visitors and volunteers.
Thomas says that her changes are "nothing new and inventive," but "speak more to the fact that we have to pay attention to our policies and to how they keep kids safe." After reviewing these procedures, a safety team comprised of a building engineer, a lunch aide, the dean of students, the nurse, and Thomas defined areas in which the school could improve its protection of students.