PVSD is strongly commitmented to school safety. Part of this commitment means we are continuously assessing and improving our safety procedures and programs. We recently introduced a new Standard Response Protocol (SRP), which is seen at right and has been displayed in poster format in all of our buildings.
This SRP provides consistent language, colorful visuals and specific instructions – all of which will make it easier for our schools to communicate and respond during emergency situations. Our schools will practice these responses so that students, faculty and staff can become accustomed to each of the four actions:
Through practice drills that we carried out with the assistance of local law enforcement officials, it became apparent that although we had a well-developed emergency response plan in place and shared the same goals to protect students and staff, we were not consistently speaking the same language. We decided to move to the simpler SRP shown above because it standardizes vocabulary so that all stakeholders recognize the response and status of an event. According to the i love u guys Foundation, which provides the SRP free to school districts, the benefits of using SRP are as follows:
By standardizing the vocabulary, all stakeholders can understand the response and status of the event. For students, this provides continuity of expectations and actions throughout their educational career. For teachers, this becomes a simpler process to train and drill. For first responders, the common vocabulary and protocols establish a greater predictability that persists through the duration of an incident. Parents can easily understand the practices and can reinforce the protocol. Additionally, this protocol enables rapid response determination when an unforeseen event occurs.
The Perkiomen Valley School District addresses safety and security issues on a regular basis through its Safety Committee — a team of administrators, local law enforcement representatives, School Board members and community members who meet monthly to review policies, procedures, and issues and concerns related to campus safety and security. In addition to the work that goes on in this committee, each of our buildings practices emergency drills on a regular basis. On an annual basis, our schools practice drills for the new Standard Response Protocol outlined above and we display the posters in all district buildings to provide a visual and promote the usage of consistent terminology across all schools. In addition to these steps, our elementary schools focus upon character education and our middle schools and high school have anti-bullying plans and crisis management teams in place. These plans include descriptions of school safety policies, detection of early warning signs in children, intervention strategies, emergency response plans, and post-crisis procedures.
RHF is an additional safety response that Perkiomen Valley School District added to its Standard Response Protocol in the 2018-19 school year after spending a year training with professionals. RHF was developed by the Department of Homeland Security and is an options-based approach that allows for flexibility when responding to a crisis. Training encourages situational awareness and encourages participants to think about how their response to a crisis might change in the moment, depending upon the circumstances.
No, we will not be emphasizing this part of the response in any drill that is practiced. Instead, what we want faculty and staff to impress upon students is to be aware of what is happening around them and to know that responses may change depending upon the situation. We hope to train our students to know that they should follow the lead of the adult(s) in the room. Those adults will be the ones making decisions in the moment as to what seems to be the safest response.
Please visit Emergency Closing Information to learn how decisions are made and what methods are used to inform the community.
Ask your school principal about the emergency preparedness plan in place to handle an emergency or crises. Please be aware that some cases, we may not be able to share every detail of our emergency preparedness plans with you for security reasons, but you are welcome to learn about our basic framework and guidelines.
Comprehensive emergency preparedness plans should include the designation of a parent/child reunification location, use of school public address/automatic call systems in the event of an emergency, evacuation, lock-down, lock-out and shelter procedures. Parents may inquire as to school admittance procedures during school hours, number of trainings and drills per school year, and collaboration with local law enforcement.
The first step is to be informed about existing plans and procedures. Effective emergency preparedness plans are routinely revisited to identify areas of improvement. It is also important to make sure you give school officials accurate contact information for your family. Talk to your children about what to do, where to meet and how to contact you should an emergency situation arise. Find ways to collaborate effectively with school staff and fellow parents and community members to best prepare for emergency situations. You are welcome to attend our monthly Safety Committee meetings to learn more about our ongoing efforts.
In 2019, the state rolled out the Safe2Say Something anonymous reporting system. This system allows school community members to report safety concerns related to school violence and/or student crisis. Below are three ways to report a safety concern. Click on the image for more information or visit: Safe2Say.