School Safety Statement
Recent tragedies at schools across the country have heightened everyone’s concern for the safety of students. Providing our students with an environment that is SAFE AND CONDUCIVE TO LEARNING is paramount to the District. Ongoing reviews of our operations, facilities, and safety protocols are constantly occurring. In addition, the District has a safe schools response plan that deals with situations ranging from a medical emergency in a school to a serious incident at Three Mile Island and everything in between. While we cannot share the details of our responses as it would compromise our safety measures, we can share a few ways in which we foster SCHOOL SAFETY:
- ENTRANCES: During the school day, all entrances to our schools, K-12, are locked. Visitors must enter each facility through a single visitors entrance. Each entrance has a camera/intercom/buzzer system that allows office staff the chance to see and communicate with visitors prior to “buzzing” open the door.
- SECURED VESTIBULES: Most of our schools have a secured vestibule that leads into the school office rather than the school hallways. Ongoing and future renovation projects will all entail the addition of a secured vestibule to those schools without.
- SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER: In a collaborative initiative with the Elizabethtown Police Department, the District employees a school resource officer (SRO). A SRO is a sworn law enforcement officer assigned to a school on a long-term basis. The SRO is specifically trained in and performs three main functions: law enforcement officer, law related counselor, and law related educator. The SRO is based out of Elizabethtown Area High School, with access and a presence across all of our schools in cooperation with all four municipalities.
- A.L.I.C.E.: Elizabethtown Area School District has employed the A.L.I.C.E. program (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) since 2010. The A.L.I.C.E. program has placed more tools in the hands of our faculty, staff, and students in the event the traditional, and still relevant “lockdown” is not enough to ensure personal well being. The A.L.I.C.E. program has provided our District with an enhanced approach to school safety.
- A.L.I.C.E. INSTRUCTOR TRAINING: Elizabethtown Area School District is a host sight for A.L.I.C.E. Instructor Training. Conducted by the A.L.I.C.E. Training Institute, this training is designed to teach law enforcement as well as school, church, hospital, and workplace administrators and employees skills and strategies that bridge the gap between the time a violent event begins and law enforcement arrives.
- SAFETY DRILLS: Each of our schools routinely practices a series of drills as required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education including ones for fire and severe weather. In addition, the District conducts age-appropriate armed intruder drills.
- ACTIVE SHOOTER TRAINING BY LAW ENFORCEMENT: Elizabethtown Area School District is a host sight – while school is not in session generally over the summer - for local law enforcement to conduct mock active shooter training. Local law enforcement and volunteers including some of our teachers and administrators take part in the drill.
- HOTLINE: The District employs a hotline allowing students/community members to anonymously share information with District officials in an easy manner that is non-threatening to the tipster.
- THREATS: District administration has encouraged parents to talk with their children about the seriousness of threats and the importance of reporting suspicious activities, threats, or disturbing information to a trusted adult. Students should also be aware that law enforcement agencies are pursuing prosecution when such threats are intended as pranks. See Something, Say Something.
- PARTNERSHIPS: The Elizabethtown Area School District has an outstanding relationship with first responders including all three local police departments, our volunteer fire companies, and EMS. Information and conversations occur often and we work hand-in-hand to resolve situations as appropriate and necessary.
The District is also aware of the growing, student-led conversations about "walking out" of schools demanding local legislators take action to make SCHOOLS SAFER. Multiple dates for the protests have been planned across the nation including in March and April. In essence, this student-led walkout movement could touch the roughly 15.1 million high school students currently in the country. We are also aware students may choose to "walk out" prior to those dates. In fact, around forty students walked outside the high school today to raise awareness of the importance of SCHOOL SAFETY. Our goal as a school district is not to alienate groups or take a political position in favor of one side or the other. Safe, honest, and respectful debate is encouraged in our curriculum year round as well as during times when current events dictate.
Given the magnitude of the student-led initiative nationwide to elevate the importance to legislators of addressing SCHOOL SAFETY concerns, if our students choose to "walk out" to advocate for SAFER SCHOOLS, we support them and will ensure it is done safely and respectfully as part of a learning process. We recognize parents/guardians may feel differently about our position. We respect that right and encourage you to talk to your child about your beliefs as a parent/guardian. School and district administrators will dialogue with the students to make certain any plan is fully disclosed in advance as well as the date and time. If our students move forward with a “walk out” we will share the details with our families in advance. We will do so to make certain the protest is safe and orderly. Our emphasis as a school district is to help students learn. Current events can be an outstanding learning experience. We will also ensure that the student right to protest has a minimal impact on our learning environment. We will meet with local student leaders and ensure they are fully versed in our expectations and that their protest rights do not take away from our goal of providing an environment that is safe and conducive for learning.