Fraser Public Schools to implement new safety measures

By: Brendan Losinski | Fraser-Clinton Chronicle | Published January 9, 2023


FRASER — Several improvements are coming to Fraser Public Schools facilities, thanks to funds from several grants that will improve student safety and their well-being.

The improvements will be implemented over the next year and will focus on improving the physical safety of students, improving communication in times of potential crisis and offering more mental health resources to prevent students from considering lashing out.

“We always monitor our safety and security protocols and try to be proactive in every way we can,” Dan Waters, the district’s director of operations, maintenance and transportation, said in an email.

A number of grants were used to fund the safety enhancements. This included $250,000 from the Michigan State Police School Safety Grant Program; $32,500 from the Child Care Stabilization Grant Program; and approximately $200,235 from the Section 97 School Safety Grant Program

“We’ve been doing a lot of safety improvements,” Superintendent Carrie Wozniak said. “We’ve received some grants from the state to add new things. We will add a new PA system. This would help with safety drills and practicing evacuation drills. We can do some good staff training with it.”

The most immediately visible sign of the improvements will be the addition of specialized locks on all classrooms and instructional spaces.

“All of our classrooms now have Columbine locks so teachers can lock their doors from the inside,” said Wozniak. “It’s a big investment for every instructional space to have these locks installed.”

The door locks also will have indicators so that those inside the classroom can be sure when the locks are engaged without having to approach the door to check.

“The additional Columbine locks and door lock indicators will further enhance the safety of our students and staff,” wrote Waters. “We continue to work with our outside safety consultants and evaluate our safety procedures and devices in the district.”

A new public address system also will be installed — one specifically designed to be of use in times of emergency.

“The PA system will be installed in every building this summer and replaces the current system that was installed in 2005,” said Waters. “This state-of-the-art system includes features such as prerecorded messages for safety drills, safety protocol buttons and remote access.”

Wozniak said that the mental health resources they will be implementing to help students are designed to prevent students from suffering with issues that may have contributed to students in other districts lashing out violently.

“We are putting a lot of time and energy into mental health support,” she said. “When you talk about school safety, it’s a two-pronged structure. Some are safety measures, and some are preventative measures. Giving students opportunities to get help and reaching out to students and parents is important. You can’t get wrapped up in just the hardware.”

In addition to in-school counseling, Fraser Schools will partner with other organizations such as CARE of Southeast Michigan to provide this mental health support.

“CARE is one of our community partners that helps provide mental health options. We’re able to provide referrals for mental health evaluations,” said Wozniak. “They can be referred for care they may need or could help them. Parents often don’t know where to turn when kids need assistance in this area. (CARE) also helps provide classes to support students who might have had issues with vaping and other substance abuse.”

District officials believed that this was the appropriate time to address these concerns, as school safety has been on the minds of many families since the COVID-19 pandemic began to recede.

“We’re really at a place where we are coming out of the pandemic and schools need to partner with parents to move forward,” Wozniak said. “Schools had a lot of targeted responsibility during COVID, and now that we are sort of returning to normal, we want to re-forge the partnerships with parents and families. They need to know that, when they bring their child here, they will not only be safe, but also have a strong relationship with the school. … Returning to normal has been so hard for people. We want to make sure people can rest easy knowing their school is a safe place.”