Students Begin Return After Shooting Near School

POUGHKEEPSIE – Juniors and seniors returned to Poughkeepsie High School Friday as part of the planned phased-in return to classes following Monday’s shooting on Forbus Street in front of the school.

Instead of a regular schedule of classes, students were given opportunity to suggest solutions to some of the issues they are facing, talk to district and county student support staff about the incident and learn about safety enhancements made and at the school. It was also a chance for Principal Kelleyann Royce-Giron to reinforce expectations and existing protocols.

Superintendent Dr. Eric Jay Rosser canceled classes at the school for a scheduled half-day Tuesday and all day Wednesday and Thursday in order speak with staff and to create a structure for students’ return that would address their social and emotional well-being and allow additional safety measures to be put into place.

Those measures include:
• Presence of law enforcement at arrival and dismissal times
• Additional staffing to enhance the flow of students during class transitions. Rosser indicated that four of the seven additional safety monitors had been approved through the civil service process and were training in the district.
• Installation of audible alarms on exterior doors (PHS and at PMS)
• Regularly scheduled sweeps of school hallways
• Regular perimeter checks
• Presence of monitors at key points in hallways throughout the school and cafeteria
• Adding another set of doors available for use during dismissal thanks to additional staffing
• K-9 sweeps of lockers
• Mental Health supports for students

Students gathered by grade level in the auditorium for an initial discussion, breaking into small groups during which students were asked to jot down what they thought some of the issues are facing the school and their ideas to address them, reassembling for a group session, lunch and then a review of the day and evacuation protocols.

“Today is about reflection and restoration and bringing us back to the importance of those expectations, policies, code of conduct and supports,” Royce-Giron said after the initial morning session in the auditorium.

Rosser and Royce-Giron walked the hallways checking in with staff and students, answering questions and providing reassurance.

Rosser was able to address the juniors, sharing with them that every adult employed at the high school was there to support them reaching their aspirations of high school graduation. He noted that the school has 13 (soon to be 14) student support staff members that are in place to support them, and teachers who are committed to assisting them to achieve academic success. He stated “it will require us all to stay committed in our individual and collective responsibilities, and require students to take responsibility in this important work”, citing the Student Responsibility campaign underway at PHS and PMS.

Royce-Giron reminded students that they were expected to adhere to the dress code, code of conduct and ‘walk and talk’ instead of stopping in the hallways during transitions.
And, she reminded students that if they did have conflicts or issues, there were places for them to go and people to speak with about them rather than bringing the conflict into the halls.

“There is no reason to air your issues in the hallways and lobby. If you need to, we have space for you – pull it into the garage,” she said.

Royce-Giron planned to spend the weekend reviewing students’ ideas, categorizing and prioritizing them and plans to do the same with the ideas generated by students starting back on Monday.

Royce-Giron said days like today won’t be a “one-hit wonder,” and that she wants to incorporate such days of social and emotional wellness throughout the year.

Rosser shared that additional supports are soon to come as he has been receiving an outpour of support and assistance from various members of the Poughkeepsie community.

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