Dear Families and Community Members of the Appleton Area School District:
After the tragedy in Florida and the ongoing concerns across our country and community, we want to reassure our students, families, and staff that the safety of our students is our top priority. We all work very hard every day to ensure that our school environments are secure while also being welcoming to our families and community members.
School officials and staff members focus on the prevention of school violence in many ways, including demonstrating respect for all individuals and cultures, as well as supporting and recognizing positive behaviors. We make continuous improvements through constant monitoring and feedback and we encourage our families and community members to share any observations or opportunities for growth.
We know that many families may have questions about talking to children about violence. It is normal for both children and adults to experience a range of emotions. We want to provide support to families, students, and staff as we face these tough issues. The National Association of School Psychologists has resources to help us have these conversations.
Proactive Preparation: School Safety in the Appleton Area School District
We foster a safe and welcoming school environment for all of our students, staff, and families by:
Encouraging collective and individual achievement and promoting the daily application of positive values and conflict resolution skills to help manage naturally occurring controversies
Focusing on conflict resolution, peer mediation, and character education
Connecting students with school and community life
Increasing student engagement
Developing learning communities in which respect and concern for one another as individuals will be in place in each classroom across the District
Monitoring school guests (report to main office, sign in, wear badges, report unfamiliar people to school office)
Providing an anonymous reporting system (STOPit bully and incident reporting app)
Conducting school preparedness drills (intruder alerts, weather and fire)
Controlling access to school buildings (designated locked entrances)
Monitoring school parking lots and video monitoring
Monitoring and supervising student common areas such as hallways, cafeterias, and playgrounds
Supporting school-community partnerships to enhance safety measures for students beyond our school property and after the school day
Supporting School Resource Officers (SROs) in our schools and communities throughout the year along with our ongoing partnerships with the Appleton and Grand Chute Police Departments
Ensuring up-to-date crisis plans and preparedness training
Conducting threat assessment procedures with help from the Appleton Police Department
Providing internet filters to block access to inappropriate material from the web utilizing provided digital resources appropriately and adhering to all District privacy guidelines
Welcoming Environment for Students and Staff
Creating a safe, supportive school climate through Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) that provides school-wide behavioral expectations, positive interventions and supports, psychological and counseling services, bullying and violence prevention programs
Providing resources to students relating to mental health (Wellness Screenings, Sources of Strength, Trauma Sensitive Schools, grief resources, and more)
Encouraging students to take responsibility for their part in maintaining safe school environments, including student participation in safety planning
Reporting potential concerns to school officials (If you see something, say something)
Being Prepared with Safety Drills
Tornado, fire, and intruder drills provide our students and staff with the opportunity to practice what to do in case of an emergency and to familiarize themselves with routes and procedures. These drills are important to maintaining a safe learning environment.
The District’s intruder response process is entitled ALICE, (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate). Through the District’s ALICE training, we emphasize that while schools are very safe places, the District values proactive preparation.
These safety drills will allow classrooms to practice “lockdowns” within a classroom or evacuating the school and moving to their assigned rally point. A rally point is a predetermined community landmark near the school, typically a park or church.
Families will be made aware of these safety drills before they occur so they can talk to their child before/after the drill occurs, as appropriate. Students will be prepared based upon their age level and any other considerations that may come into play with this type of safety drill practice. Schools will also work to notify surrounding neighbors of these safety drills.
Each school has a site-based safety team that determines the safety needs of each location and oversee all planning related to the drills. The District’s training and practices have allowed our staff and students to think carefully about their surroundings at school, and consider what they will do ahead of time in the case of an emergency. ALICE training reinforces that all staff are empowered to make decisions in the best interest of their students’ safety.
As with all our safety drills, our intent is not to worry students. Students should understand that they are practicing so that they are prepared. The drills will also serve as a reminder to students, staff, and parents/guardians of their important role in promoting school safety by following procedures and reporting unusual or concerning individuals or behavior.
The AASD values and prioritizes students’ safety and parents/guardians’ peace of mind. We will continuously work to ensure that our staff and students are well prepared for emergency situations.
Appleton Area School District
To learn more about school safety in the Appleton Area School District, visit http://www.aasd.k12.wi.us/parents/school_safety_and_preparedness.