Dear Lindenwold Lion Family,
In today’s society, we are reminded more than we would like of the critical need for districts to adhere to security measures to protect our students and staff. I am sure, like me, you have had some sleepless nights thinking about unsettling events across our country or you have sat in disbelief thinking about the conversation(s) you have had or will have to have with your child(ren). Today’s reality requires schools to share how we prepare for a host of emergency events.
DISTRICT PREPARATION & PROCEDURES:
- Each school has an official emergency plan and, as a District, we collaborate with our local police department.
- The District employs two School Resource Officers and one Class III Officer during the school year to assist with security plan management as well as on-site safety and security concerns. These officers are on- site for no less than 180 student school days. It is a daily, routine occurrence to see our students engaging with our local law enforcement in a positive manner, and this should not signal a problem or concern. As a community, we want our students to build positive relationships with law enforcement, and we want our officers to build positive relationships with our students, too.
- Every month, all schools practice a minimum of two unannounced safety/emergency drills. These drills include: fire drills, lockdown drills, evacuation drills, weather drills, shelter-in-place drill, etc. When discussing these drills with students, schools will use terms such as: “Hold,” “Secure,” “Shelter,” “Evacuate,” and “Lockdown.”
- The District maintains an on-site internal and/or external camera system. In the event of a true emergency, our local police department would be granted access to our cameras in the event of a true emergency.
- Staff throughout each building are CPR and Restraint Trained.
- Ms. McManis serves as the School District Safety Specialist and is provided monthly training in order to maintain her School Safety Specialist Certification.
- Following every school emergency drill, your child’s school will communicate with families via Real Time, the school’s notification system. All families should make sure their most up-to-date contact information is recorded in our information system (email, cell phone number for text messages, and phone number).
- Please refrain from communicating school related emergency information on social media. Please understand the school district must first make sure our students and staff are safe. After ensuring everyone’s safety, we will then communicate with our families. Please trust, in the event of a true emergency or real safety/security concern, the school will accurately communicate with the community as soon as we are able. In a real emergency situation, it is essential that all communication IS complete and accurate.
- Teachers will NOT be permitted to share information of any kind during an emergency. Therefore, teachers and staff will not be permitted to send out emails, texts, or social media posts (including Dojo updates). If you contact a teacher during an emergency, that staff member will not be permitted to respond back to you until the emergency has ended. Staff will be happy to respond once the situation has been resolved and they are given permission to do so.
- Students will be instructed NOT to communicate from their cell phones during a real emergency. This is how rumors and false information circulate through communities and social media. However, if you receive a message from a student during an emergency drill / situation, please avoid the temptation to share that information on social media. Please understand spreading false or partial information during an emergency does more harm than good. It incites unnecessary panic. Often, the school and law enforcement agencies are working from different sources of information than what has been posted on social media. Please resist the temptation to assume social media information – not published by the school district or law enforcement agency - is 100% accurate.
- In a real emergency or safety / security situation, the district would work in conjunction with multiple agencies: law enforcement and first responders. It is important to keep in mind all of the agencies that would be coordinating services/resources. This form of communication does take longer to organize. At the same time, district staff must prioritize communicating with the families of those students / staff directly involved before communicating with the community at large. We ask for your patience and understanding.
- Please keep in mind, if you choose to call the school to obtain information, there will be many other families doing the same. You may not be able to reach someone in the office right away because the staff may be fielding an abundance of family phone calls. Some of our offices only have one or two individuals available to “man the phones.” Please be patient with us as your call is important to us, too.
Shelter-in-place drills may be used more often than other drills in the course of a school year. This particular drill allows the school district to lockdown the exterior of the building while allowing students to remain in their classrooms and continue with their learning. Schools may refer to these drills as “Hold” or “Secure” drills.
These drills are used for a variety of reasons - most of which allow the school to provide privacy and/or space for staff to address a situation in common areas such as the hallway.
- A student or staff member may be experiencing a medical situation, and we need our staff to be able to assist the individual. (i.e. a fall, a seizure, nausea, fainting spell, etc.)
- A student may be having a difficult day and may need some space to re-group and/or work with our Child Study Team.
- An angry visitor may cause a disturbance in the main office area.
- There could be an emergency in our community or surrounding community where we feel it is best to keep our students inside the building.
ACTIVE SHOOTERS & EVACUATIONS:
- The school will communicate with all parents through the Real Time Communication System / Parent Portal (telephone, email, and text). We will also communicate via our social media pages. It is very important to make sure your contact information is always maintained, up-to-date, and you have identified how you prefer to be
- If there is a need to evacuate students and staff to an off-site location, the District will notify you where you may meet your child. Upon arrival, parents will be directed to a “check-in area.” You will then be escorted to a “waiting ”
- In the event we need to implement our reunification plan, please realize this will take time – a significant amount of time. We could have several hundred students who need to be reunited with their families. It is important to note this will be a stressful situation for our staff. A significant level of patience and understanding will be required if this plan is to be enacted. Be mentally prepared to wait in the designated “waiting area” in the event this was to occur.
- As parents arrive and check-in at the Reunification Site, school staff will require you to present identification. You will have to provide this information several times, so please have your ID handy. Students will only be released to individuals named as emergency contacts in Real Time. Under no circumstances will a child be released to anyone not listed in Real Time as an emergency contact.
- We apologize in advance, as this most certainly would be a highly charged and emotional situation, but students will not be released to family, friends, neighbors, etc. if individuals are not listed as Emergency Contacts. Families should ensure their Parent Portal is up-to-date with their preferred Emergency Contact Lists.
CRISIS RESPONSE TEAMS:
- Every school building has a Crisis Response Team. In the event we have advance notice of an emergency or crisis situation, the team will meet in advance to plan.
- In the event the crisis is immediate, the team would meet after a crisis to debrief, revise, and re-organize.
Please know the District understands and respects the knowledge that families have valid concerns. In today’s “information age,” we also understand the desire to have as much information as possible and as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, the school is not able to communicate everything our families wish we could. The District also values providing accurate and complete information to our families and there are situations where that may require a little more time than our families would prefer. Please trust that the District will share this information when we are able.
Finally, we are ONLY permitted to share information about your own child with you. We may not discuss details about any child who is not your own. It is important that you trust in the knowledge that our District cares about you, your child, and your family. We will do everything within our control to ensure our staff and your child(ren) are safe and secure.
Dr. Kristin P. O’Neil
Lindenwold District Superintendent