Erie's Public Schools Safety Polices and Procedures FAQ
What is the district's process to update and enforce safety policies and procedures?
The board and administration of Erie's Public Schools is committed to taking all possible steps to keep our students and staff safe inside our school buildings. The following items represent a partial list of safety prevention and readiness activities undertaken in coordination with our District Police and Erie City Police:
1. Update and review of the district's Emergency Management and Response Handbook
2. Review and revision of school entrance and door locking procedures to ensure that all visitors enter the building through one designated door.
3. Review and revision of visitor procedures (see below)
4. Active shooter drills with Erie City and District Police
5. Lockdown, shelter-in-place, and fire drills in all school buildings to familiarize students and staff with emergency response procedures
6. Formation and maintenance of school safety/security teams in each school building
7. Support of Erie City and District police in all middle and high schools. Blue Coat support in most school buildings.
In addition, the district is currently exploring additions to our website that would allow parents and students to report bullying incidents or dangerous behavior anonymously to school administrators. We expect to implement a system in time for the 2018-19 school year. In the meantime, the district has set up an anonymous email address for concerned parents and students to report behavior that threatens the well being of students or staff. This address is email@example.com. Parents, students and community members are encouraged to send an email with their concerns to this address, which will be monitored by district staff. Please note that this email address will only be used through the end of the 2017-18 school year. The district will implement a new system, including website updates and an app with safety features, in time for the 2018-19 school year.
What are the visitor procedures at my child's school that have been put in place to ensure school security?
1. When possible, visitors should pre-register for appointments at a school building. If you are a parent dropping off an item for your student at school, you do not need to pre-register but must go to the main office upon arrival at the school.
2. Upon arrival, all visitors must ring the school buzzer and will be asked to state their reason for coming to the school. They will then be let into the school and told to come directly to the main office.
3. All visitors must register and get an ID badge in the main office.
4. Visitors must remain in approved areas and may not wander throughout the building.
5. Upon conclusion of the visit, visitors must return to the office to sign out and hand in their ID badge.
What is the different between "soft lockdown" and "hard lockdown?"
A "soft lockdown" is called when there is a minor threat or if authorities need access to clear halls withing the building. When this occurs, students and staff are asked to remain in classrooms and to keep halls clear for the duration of the lockdown.
A "hard lockdown" is more serious and indicates a higher level threat inside or near the building. During this event, students and staff must remain in their classrooms and no access to the building will be permitted with the exception of law enforcement.
Will parents be notified when a drill or an actual lockdown takes place?
Parents will not be notified about the timing of drills throughout the school year. Principals and teachers explain these drills using age-appropriate language in each building as needed.
Principals will make every attempt to notify parents after a lockdown or other event has taken place at a school in order to keep them as informed as possible. Principals may utilize OneCall, their school or district social media page and/or a letter home to families for this purpose so parents are reminded to maintain updated contact information on file at their child's school.
How will the district communicate with families in the event of a school emergency?
Parents will not be notified during the school day of any threat or lockdown that has been investigated and determined not to be credible. However, as noted above, every effort will be made to inform parents about the event after the school day has ended. Often, this notification will be posted on the district's social media pages as a general message that the event was investigated and determined not to be credible.
In the case of an actual emergency, parents can expect notification through the following mediums: OneCall, district Facebook/Twitter feeds, and district website alerts. For this reason, we encourage parents to maintain updated contact information on file at their child's school and to familiarize themselves with the district's website and social media pages.
Parents should also be aware that the district must abide by federal privacy laws that limit the amount of information that can be shared publicly about individual students and/or disciplinary action. The district must also act in cooperation with local law enforcement and must confirm all information before releasing it to the public. In this age of cell phones and social media, we understand that information often spreads rapidly before it is confirmed. For this reason, we ask that parents check the validity of information being circulated on social media before reacting or sharing it. The district works hard to keep its website and social media pages up-to-date so that parents and students can use these sites to obtain accurate, updated information.
Are there any resources to help if my child is feeling fearful about school-related emergencies?
Parents are also encouraged to reach out to the school counselor, mental health professional and/or principal(s) at your child's school if you need additional support.
What else can parents do to help?
Parents should remind students that "terroristic threats" (defined as "threats to commit any crime of violence to another or to cause evacuation of a building, place of assembly or facility, or to cause serious public inconvenience, or in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror or inconvenience") and "terroristic acts" are Level III Infractions according to the district's Student Handbook and will be taken seriously, regardless of student intent.
Parents can also teach their students about situational awareness, that is, helping children learn to be aware of their surroundings and to recognize danger signs. Students should be encouraged to responsibly report concerning behavior or activity to the adults in their school.