As a mother of four children and the superintendent of Red Bluff High School District, I am tremendously saddened by the events of last week. You did not have to know Marysa Nichols personally to be impacted by her death. It is a horrific situation that is incomprehensible. Yet it has happened and we are handling it here in the district with support from each other and our community.
Last Friday I met with all students in grade level assemblies. I explained the facts as given by the Red Bluff Police Department. I explained that the police will not released many details about the case and will not as that might jeopardize the integrity of their investigation. I understand that we are human and want to explain what happens and sometimes that need to explain results in rumors. I asked as their superintendent that our students not participate in the spreading of rumors during this very difficult time.
I also talked to our students about safety. The adults in our district work very hard to ensure safety for our students in the classroom and on school grounds. But we need students to also help in decreasing their vulnerability whether at school or at home. I asked our students to do the following:
Be accountable - if you are supposed to be in class, be there. If you have to leave class, tell an adult. We want to know where our students are during the school day.
Buddy Up - there is safety in numbers. Travel with a friend especially in isolated areas.
Listen to your intuition - we all have a "6th sense" if you will, an inner voice that alerts us when we may be in danger. Listen to that voice and pay attention the feeling your body gives when it senses danger.
Be aware - notice your surroundings and if anything looks odd or someone seems out of place, tell someone.
Get support - we all grieve and respond to these tragic events in our own way. We have counselors on hand and want our students to utilize our experts when needed.
Families and community members can support us by helping to reinforce these safety skills at home.
We have a comprehensive safety plan for our school. We supervise during the day. Visitors check in and get a visitor pass before they are allowed to be on campus. Students in our district are known to our staff by first name. We care about our students. We will continue to supervise and evaluate our current practice to see what we can do better, which is what we always do. Your ideas and suggestions are always welcome because safety of our students is a school responsibility that is shared with families and our community.
This has been a very difficult time for all of us. We could not have made it through without the incredible support of law enforcement, the Tehama County Office of Education staff and out outlying districts that have offered their emotional support and staff members to increase our outreach to students and staff that were struggling. I would like to give a very public thank you to them from our district.