Safety and Security
In Vestavia Hills City Schools, a major component of our mission is to provide all students and staff with a safe and nurturing learning environment. In the event of a crisis, natural disaster, or inclement weather event, we want all parents and stakeholders to be assured that our top priority is the safety and security of all who are on our campuses.
HOW WE PREPARE
All schools and the system update their emergency response procedures annually. These procedures provide faculty, staff, and administrators specific instructions to respond to various emergencies including severe weather, natural disasters, or other crises that could occur in and around our schools. These procedures are used in annual safety and security training for all employees. In addition, all schools regularly conduct emergency response drills to practice and improve the effectiveness of our safety plans.
Vestavia Hills City Schools maintains a joint agreement with the City of Vestavia Hills to provide every school with at least one School Resource Officer. Members of local law enforcement agencies also train in our schools and maintain access that enables them to respond without delay in any situation. We maintain ongoing communication with city and county officials and other agencies that assist the school system in emergencies.
The school system maintains an active crisis response team which includes administrators, licensed professional counselors, law enforcement, fire and medical emergency responders, city leaders, and other individuals who are ready to respond. Activation of the crisis response team occurs whenever a school needs additional support.
HOW YOU CAN PREPARE
During any crisis, natural disaster, or severe weather event, we will provide information to parents and stakeholders as quickly as possible while focusing on the safety and wellbeing of students and staff first. Vestavia Hills City Schools maintains a mass notification service that enables schools and the district to contact students, staff, and immediate family members by telephone, text message, and email. To ensure you receive these important messages, please notify your child’s school of any updates or changes to your family’s contact information. The mass notification system may also be used by various school groups and athletic teams to send out other relevant information.
The following are terms and descriptions that are commonly used in schools during emergencies:
Shelter In Place
This phrase could be used, for example, during severe weather or a hazardous materials incident. A Tornado Warning requires students to take shelter in a designated sheltering space and stay there until the threat has passed. These areas have been reviewed and approved by the Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency. During a shelter-in-place emergency, doors are closed to the public and school operations (such as student checkout) are suspended until the threat has passed.
This term is used when a school is notified of a potential threat in an area near the campus. If a secured perimeter is needed, normal classroom activities will continue with restricted entry and limited, supervised movement within buildings. Parents and guardians are asked to stay away from campus during a secured perimeter to avoid interfering with school and/or police activity. No one may enter or exit the campus, and students will not be released to leave the building until an all-clear is given by the appropriate agency.
A lockdown takes place if a threat or possible threat is identified inside the school or on the campus. Instruction and all other operations are temporarily stopped. All exterior and interior doors are locked and students are secured in their classrooms. No one (except appropriate emergency response personnel) will be allowed to enter or leave campus buildings until an all-clear is given. In the event of a lockdown, parents should monitor their phone and/or email for important messages from the school.
Evacuation and Parent Reunification
If students are evacuated from a school, or when an emergency has occurred that affects the location of dismissal, a parent reunification point will be established. At this location, parents will be updated concerning the situation and plans for reunification with their child(ren). As with any other school day, a student may only be released to an adult who is listed as an emergency contact on school records. Anyone attempting to pick up a student must show proper photo identification. In cases where students will be released from the school, students who have obtained a parking permit will be able to sign themselves out at the time of the release.
Remember to keep your contact information updated with your child’s school, and talk with your children about the importance of all safety drills at school. By preparing now, we can all work together to ensure that our students are protected for learning without limits.