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Dear PV Colleagues and Community:

Yesterday, our high school principal, Ms. Intrieri, sent me a text asking what we should write, what message we should send about the shooting in Santa Fe, Texas that led to the loss of 10 lives of students and teachers. To be truthful, I said I didn’t know what to say at this point. I felt so terribly sad and sorry for the students and families without knowing what I could add to what we have communicated in too many earlier messages that I was even thinking I should not write. Then, I thought of the Santa Fe student who said that she had the feeling that “It was happening everywhere and that “eventually it would happen here, too.” I realized that we cannot let this event become one more unheard and continuous drumbeat that creates fear and resignation for our young people. I recently heard a presentation by Ray Sanchez, who was talking about his initiatives as a Superintendent in Ossining. He talked about the leader’s efficacy in a “sphere of influence.” I thought about how we have been thinking about ways to create safe spaces in our Putnam Valley Schools. That is the “sphere of influence” we are focused on serving by continuing to refine our practices that are evidence-based to address potential threats. While we have been involved in rehearsals of violent actions through drills and procedures, reviewing and refining our security measures, collaborating with our Sheriff’s Department and our SRO and SPOs and training students and staff in rapid and strategic responses, we have recently partnered with Altaris, an organization of regional retired law enforcement agents who have been assessing our procedures and sitting down with our building teams to determine our next steps for training. At our next Superintendent’s Conference Day, we will have a speaker who will discuss what we need to do to get better. We will never stop working together to get better at protecting our students.  However, it is the status of our students’ mental health and social media lives that remain the greatest hurdle to our security and whether they have access to guns. There are areas that we cannot access in our students’ lives, even with our caring and skilled clinicians. That is where we rely on our community to share its collective wisdom and knowledge of our students to help us identify something they have seen or heard that is worrisome. Advance knowing by others and reports through Anonymous Alerts are a way to use technology to help us improve our threat assessment process and prevent the unthinkable. You can access Anonymous Alerts via our website or our mobile app (Putnam Valley CSD). We follow up on every alert we receive through our relationships with the Sheriff’s department and our staff. We count on our Putnam Valley community, our village, to alert us so that we can take necessary measures to ensure the safety of our schools. We must feel empowered within our “sphere of influence.”

Sincerely,

Dr. Frances Wills