A Letter from the Superintendent
Dear SHSD Families,
As part of our work, we have been putting extra focus on how to keep our schools safe for everyone. We are taking steps to make our schools safer in three main areas that we wanted you all to be aware of before school starts.
1. We are working more closely with local law enforcement in both Steilacoom and DuPont to increase our coordination and ensure that every school has the proper processes in place to prevent people who might threaten the health and welfare of our students from getting into our schools. So far, we’ve found that our district’s schools are in great shape, but we will continue to modify some procedures in schools to improve safety even more. Please be patient with us as we work to make our schools both safe and welcoming.
2. Vaping in schools has become a larger health issue across the nation. This is a serious health issue as most vaping cartridges contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s. Vaping can also deliver other harmful substances besides nicotine, and may impact or impair a student’s ability to learn and focus. Because of the safety issue that vaping poses, our administrators will continue to work with students on this issue and the district will be installing more vaping detectors throughout our schools, including in restrooms and other locations where this activity has been occurring. Please help us by talking to your student about the risks of vaping and why vaping is not allowed in school. For more information about the risks of vaping, please read this article on the CDC's website.
3. Cell phone and technology devices are increasingly being used in schools to bully, harass and intimidate students both in and out of our schools. While we can’t control how cell phones are used during non-school times or what is ultimately posted on Instagram, FaceBook, and other social media platforms, we are going to take steps to ensure that these powerful tools are not used to disrupt the learning environment, violate the privacy rights of others, or harass students during school hours.
Our policy has been that cell phones can be turned on and operated only before and after school, during the student’s lunch break or during an emergency. This is not changing, but it will be more strictly enforced. What is changing is that our policy will be more explicit about what types of activities are allowed, even when the cell phone is allowed to be on. For instance, a student can have their cell phone on during lunch, but the policy will clarify that phones cannot be used for recording photographs, video, or audio at that time and certainly not anywhere where individuals have an expectation of privacy.
The final revision of the policy will be considered by the school board at its August 24 meeting at 7:00pm held at Pioneer Middle School. If you would like to comment on the policy revisions, you may email the board or attend the meeting in person and provide testimony. The final policy will be reflected in the Student and Family Handbook for the 2022-23 school year.
Thank you for your continued support. Please let your school principal know if you have any questions about how these changes impact your children. We look forward to working with you to make the next school year amazing for everyone.
Dr. Kathi Weight