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School Safety at ACSD

As part of our ongoing efforts to keep our community safe, we want to share an overview of our safety and preparedness efforts at Addison Central School District. We recognize that discussing school safety can be emotional and challenging for everyone. Our goal is to share details to keep you informed and resources to help you feel that you can support your children so that we can be partners in keeping our students and schools safe. 

Safety Training and Practices:

The goal in each safety practice is to help our students feel safe, calm, and empowered. We will practice a variety of emergency preparedness exercises throughout the year with guidance from the VT Agency of Education (AOE) and the Vermont School Safety Center

  • The drills we practice include a variety of evacuation and options-based drills. You can find the sample schedule of drills on our district safety page.

  • All schools are required, by statute, to conduct a minimum of two options-based response drills - one in September and one in January - on each campus each year.  School sites will provide notice of specific dates and times directly. 

  • Options-based drills introduce students to various strategies in response to a threat, such as when to evacuate from the school or barricade in a classroom. Please know that all options based drills are trauma informed and age appropriate. This means the drills are performed in a way that is sensitive to the emotional well-being of our students. No active threat “simulations” will occur.  All practices will be announced to staff and students in advance.  

  • Whenever an options based drill is planned,  families will be notified at least one day in advance to help support children with any questions at home. 

  • All employees (including substitute teachers) are required to take complete safety training. This year, staff were trained in  A.L.I.C.E (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate). A.L.I.C.E is a multifaceted response to a dangerous or unexpected situation.  At the recommendation of the VT Agency of Education and U.S. Department of Homeland Security and F.B.I., over the course of this year we will transition to a Run, Hide, Fight protocol which is another options based practice.

  • ACSD’s leaders are trained in the Vermont School Crisis Guide

  • Each school has an identified Crisis Team and we are continually working to improve our Emergency Operations Plan for each school, which is reviewed by our Director of Facilities and shared with local emergency management professionals.

  • We have a cross-district ACSD School Safety Team that meets regularly to identify additional needs or changes that would increase building security and school safety

  • We communicate and work with emergency responders across the county to support inter-agency leadership in the event of a school crisis.

  • Our principals and guidance counselors are always available to support parents or students who have additional questions.
     

Building Security

  • Each of our buildings has locked entrances that require authorized key fobs or a school employee to open doors for entrance

  • Each of our buildings has surveillance cameras, depending on the school, they are located in hallways and/or exterior 

  • School administrators use a variety of internal communication systems including radios, text/phone to ensure rapid response to any crisis

  • We have a strong relationship with all three police forces that cover our seven towns and a district School Resource Officer from Middlebury Police Department that works closely with Mary Hogan, MUMS, and MUHS

  • Principals meet regularly with the Director of Facilities to review the physical safety measures and any concerns that arise. 

  • We continue to fund safety improvements to our buildings and utilize safety audits to determine areas for future investment
     

Universal Commands

In the event of an emergency at your child's school, it is important to know the reasoning behind the response and the terms associated with it. A school crisis can take a number of different forms including a weather emergency such as a hurricane, an environmental event like a chemical spill, a dangerous or criminal event in the immediate area, or something at the school such as an intruder. You may hear your child refer to the following terms, or universal crisis commands, which our district uses to in response to many different situations: This year, we will be working to unify the commands across our district schools: 

  • Clear the Halls: This command is used if something is happening in our hallways and staff or outside personnel need space or privacy to resolve the incident. Students may be asked to return to their classroom or go to the nearest room with an adult.

  • Secure: This command is used if there is a hazard or threat outside of our building. The command brings all students inside the building and into their classrooms. Any instruction and activity in class can proceed.

  • Evacuate: This command is used if there is a need to move students from one location to another. Everyone waits for directions to re-enter the building or relocate to an off-site location.

  • Lockdown: This command is used if there is a hazard or threat within the building. After the Lockdown command, staff may initiate the ALICE protocol based on situational awareness.
     

Communication in Emergencies: 

Communication is key to ensuring the safety of our students. We will do everything we can to keep parents informed during a crisis using email, phone, web and social media updates depending on the level of crisis. If there is an internal or external event that triggers a lockdown, shelter-in-place, or evacuation, families will be informed as soon as possible by phone, email, and website updates.

Please understand that there are situations where our school or district does not communicate with you for various reasons. These include: situations where it has been determined that a threat is a hoax or unsubstantiated. We understand that there are situations when parents, students, and community members are curious about the outcome of a threat, but ask that you understand that sometimes communication would violate confidentiality or cause more harm.

School Protocols in Response to Emergencies:

Each crisis event is unique, and the trainings above are intended to ensure every staff member is able to respond in the safest method possible after assessing the threat. The responsibility for the safety and security of our schools is a shared responsibility between the School board, administration, faculty, staff, students, families, community responders and partners. Each party has a role to play in an emergency.

Each school’s Emergency Operating Plan lays out specific protocols for responding to each type of emergency.  Each Plan includes: 

  1. An initial risk assessment

  2. A response or safety plan 

  3. Connecting with/requesting support of local law enforcement or community partners 

  4. Communication about the situation to individuals involved, a portion of our school or greater community

  5. Reparative and restorative practices with individuals, classrooms, schools, or our entire learning community 


Family’s Role in School Safety

To support school safety, please ensure your contact information is up to date and read all emails about school safety. You may check our website for additional information.

DO: 

  • Ensure your contact information is updated with your children(s) school.

  • Keep your phone close by for notifications from the district. 

  • Rely only on official communication from the Superintendent, Principal and/or local emergency professionals

  • Tune into local television/radio stations or log onto the ACSD District website for official and confirmed school news alerts 

  • Listen for official instructions for reunification with your child 

  • Allow first responders to manage an emergency situation 

DO NOT:

  • Call or rush to your child’s school (your presence could interfere with emergency responders)

  • Rely on unofficial and unconfirmed news reported 

  • Phone your child or school staff (this could impact others’ safety)
     

Resources for Families

It can be hard to know how to talk to your child about school safety, but it is important for all of us to be informed and have our questions answered. Your guidance counselor is always a resource for supporting your children.  Here are some additional resources that may be helpful to talk to your children about school safety:

Prevention Resources:

The best prevention to stop school crises is to build relationships, increase communication, and support our students every day. Here are some resources to help you support your child and the students in your community and talk to them when issues arise.

 

School violence is not something anyone wants to think about, but we must do the best we can to be prepared for as many different emergency or potentially unsafe scenarios as possible.  Thank you for your support in this effort. 


 

2023/2024 Emergency Drill Schedule for Vermont Public Schools

September: Required Egress Drill, Required Options Based Drill
October: Required Egress Drill
November: No drills required
December: Required either Egress or Relocation
January: Required Options Based Drill
February: Required either Egress or Relocation
March: No drills required
April: Required either Egress or Relocation
May: No drills required
June: Required either Egress or Relocation