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Pine Bluff High sets enhanced safety plan

by Special to The Commercial | September 14, 2021 at 3:45 a.m.
Security measures have been increased in and around Pine Bluff High School. One measure that has been in place is the blocking off of some streets around the high school (shown here). (Pine Bluff Commercial/Byron Tate)

Pine Bluff High School opened Monday with enhanced safety and supports following a fight and campus lockdown Thursday. Classes were canceled Friday.

Pine Bluff Police Sgt. Richard Wegner said officers responded to an altercation he described as a "schoolyard brawl" that resulted in multiple arrests, but added no weapons were found and no injuries occurred, according to an article in Friday's edition of The Commercial.

School District Superintendent Barbara Warren issued a letter Sunday describing enhanced security measures. District officials, support team from the Arkansas Department of Education and various agencies including law enforcement worked together to assess, address and enhance safety protocols.

This will be an ongoing work that will impact each campus throughout the district, but Warren wanted to address safety measures at the high school first.

Enhanced high school safety measures are:

INCREASED ADULT PRESENCE, VISIBILITY

• "The duty roster has been revised to increase adult supervision throughout the campus. The campus has been divided into zones with an increased number of duty stations before and after school and during lunch. Teachers, security officers and staff are assigned to these stations in teams to monitor student behavior, provide assistance and to increase opportunities to develop relationships and welcome students and families to the campus each day."

• "Law enforcement and other supporting agencies and volunteers will be on campus to provide supervision and support throughout the day. The district will invite these community supporters to have lunch with students to provide mentoring opportunities and to build positive relationships."

• "The sheriff's department is placing a Sky Watch on the Patterson parking lot to increase the school's opportunities for ongoing live and video surveillance during the school day and after hours activities."

TRAFFIC FLOW AND CAMPUS ACCESS

• "The singular entry point for PBHS will be from 11th Avenue. This will apply to all students and visitors. Car riders will continue to be dropped off in the turnaround across from the Academy. Students will continue to park in the McGeorge parking lot and buses will continue to board and unboard on 11th Avenue. Walkers will also be routed to approach the campus from 11th Avenue. All traffic and movement will be monitored and directed to enter east of the McGeorge Building."

• "At the end of the school day, non-bus riders will be dismissed 5-7 minutes early to facilitate a quick transition off campus. Upon dismissal, teachers will escort remaining bus riders in their classrooms to the bus boarding area."

• "Students won't be allowed to linger on campus. Once all bus riders have exited the campus, remaining students will be brought to the office to wait for their ride. Students must be supervised at all times."

• "During school hours, all visitors will park in the visitor's section of the McGeorge Parking Lot and check in at the office in the McGeorge Building. Visitors will be required to sign in and remain in the designated common area until directed or escorted as necessary."

• "Classes and offices that were in the Trice building have been moved to the Patterson building and other locations on campus. Teachers and administrators worked the weekend to make this change effective Monday. Administrators will give more details to ninth-grade students during their grade level assembly."

CLOSED CAMPUS

• "PBSD campuses have been closed for lunch for many years. To ensure safety, the number of random visitors and any lure for students to enter and exit the campus during lunch must cease. The meal source during the day for breakfast and lunch is the PBHS cafeteria. All students in the PBSD district can eat both breakfast and lunch each day for free. If students would prefer another meal, they are to bring their lunch with them to school. Food deliveries won't be allowed on campus except for specific pre-approved events or activities. Parents [and] guardians should make certain that health plans are current and in place to ensure that the school nurse is aware of any allergies or special concerns their student may have."

• "Visitors should call or visit the office to make appointments in advance to ensure the availability of teachers and administrators for meetings. To protect instructional time, teachers won't be readily available except by appointment or unless determined by campus administration. At no time should a visitor go to any building, location, office or classroom without signing in at the office and being given specific directions for how to proceed."

• "Trespassing, disruptive activity and threatening behavior will be met with the support of law enforcement."

ACCOUNTABILITY FOR ATTENDANCE, TIMELINESS

• "The first bell rings at 7:55 a.m. The first class begins at 8 a.m. Students who enter the classroom after the bell has rung are considered tardy. If buses are late, students will not be marked tardy. Missing more than 10 minutes in a class period may result in a student being marked absent. Being tardy more than three times in a class period may result in one unexcused absence. Students should come to school each day and be on time for each class period. Parents [and] guardians are to provide documentation for absences to prevent issues that can arise from unexcused absences. Unexcused absences in one or more classes may trigger an investigation for truancy."

• "The district understands that at times, students have to be checked-out and leave early for appointments and other reasons. However, repeated absences even for good reasons can have a negative impact on student achievement. Throughout the district, students are being checked out frequently toward the end of the day. Without the proper reason and documentation, this will still be counted as an unexcused absence. Students are not to be checked out during the last 45 minutes of the day unless it is unavoidable."

Print Headline: Pine Bluff High sets enhanced safety plan

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