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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Student Safety Is Top Priority

Oct 16, 2017 12:00AM

By Steven D. Herrington, Ph.D.

My heart is heavy as I observe the devastating toll the firestorm has taken across the North Bay. Here in Sonoma County, we have experienced the worst of it. Amid the ashes of unthinkable loss and destruction, what shines through is the strength and unity at work in our community. I am humbled to witness people coming together in the face of adversity to support one another and send a message of love and hope.

Last week, nearly every school district in the county was closed. As some school sites begin opening their doors again this week, student safety and health will continue to be the top priority. Staff are working around the clock to monitor conditions so that school at the remaining closed sites can resume as soon as it is safe to do so. More than anybody, educators and school staff understand the importance of restoring a sense of normalcy and routine to students.

On behalf of the Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE), I want to extend my sincere gratitude to the men and women working tirelessly to get schools back up and running, many of whom have lost their own homes in this tragedy. Thank you to custodial staff for providing our students with a clean school environment to return to by replacing air filters, cleaning desks, and power washing school grounds. Thank you to office staff for your diligent record keeping and communication with parents during these hard times. Thank you to teachers and counselors for adjusting your life schedules to provide guidance, comfort, and stability to our children. Thank you to school and district administration for your dedicated leadership and coordination behind the scenes. You all play an essential role in ensuring the success of Sonoma County students, and you couldn’t be more valuable in these challenging times.

My thoughts go out to everyone affected by this tragedy—most especially to those who have lost loved ones, homes, and businesses. I wish everyone strength and support in the coming days and weeks as the situation continues to unfold. I commend our brave, heroic first responders in their relentless efforts to overcome this, so that we as a community can begin to heal and rebuild.

Steven D. Herrington, Ph.D., is the Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools.