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Superintendent's Update on School Safety
We had a great start to the school year last week! It is wonderful to see teachers and children back in the classroom and engaged in learning.
We are in the process of conducting school safety drills in all of our schools and I’d like to take a few minutes to review the district’s safety and security plan. While we are careful not to share information publicly that could compromise these measures, we want to share with you that we are committed to a process that includes assessment, action plans, and evaluation.
The process we use to develop, monitor, and improve our safety and security plan includes:
- Comprehensive Safety Audit
- A comprehensive safety audit was conducted in the 2019-2020 school year by an outside partner agency. The results provided a multi-year, multi-tier report to the School Board. This report guides our continuous improvement.
- Health/Life Safety Inspection
- Conducted annually by the Cook County Intermediate Service Center
- Annual State Fire Marshal Inspection
- Northbrook Police Department School Liaisons
- Our police department liaisons meet regularly with principals.
- Review of Best Practice Research and Policy Briefs
- Everytown School Safety Research Briefs (2022)
- Illinois Terrorism Task Force School Safety Working Group Recommendations (2020)
- Safe and Sound Schools Straight ‘A’ Safety Improvement Toolkits (2016)
- Sandy Hook Commission Report (2015)
As I mentioned in my letter on August 11, we address safety in three broad categories: behavioral and mental health, facility security, and emergency response protocols.
Behavioral and Mental Health
- School psychologists and social workers provide behavioral and mental health services to students at every school.
- Teachers review student needs via social-emotional screeners twice per year to help identify the behavioral and emotional strengths and weaknesses of students.
- Every grade has weekly social-emotional lessons to help support the development of a growth mindset and goal-setting; emotion management; empathy and kindness; and problem-solving.
- The district partners with community organizations and presenters to provide timely information and support for parents.
- Established this year by state law, the district is implementing behavior threat assessment procedures. A threat assessment team of administrators, school-based mental health professionals, local law enforcement partners, teachers and a school counselor is being trained to address potential threats and develop response plans on a case-by-case basis.
- The district has two systems in place to support NBJH students anonymously: Anonymous Alerts is a system that students (and parents) can use to report suspicious activity. Text-A-Tip is a 24/7 messaging service to respond to students in crisis. All students can access the systems through a student dashboard on their iPads or through their phones.
Access to every school is controlled. Hardened entrances have electronic doors, exterior and entry cameras, a visitor check-in system that includes a background check, badges for all personnel, and key control.
- Electronic emergency devices throughout the school (panic buttons) are linked to local police dispatch
- Intrusion alarms, including:
- exterior door contacts
- upgraded motion sensors
- 24/7 monitoring
- Strategic installation of protective shatter-proof film on glass
- Enhanced natural surveillance
- Door signage
- Enhanced exterior lighting
- Visible outdoor supervisors with two-way radios that students can easily identify
- Primary and secondary door-locking mechanisms
- Automatic door closures in multipurpose rooms and gymnasiums
- Grab-and-go emergency plans and maps
- Safety backpacks containing:
- first aid
- emergency lighting
- emergency food supplies
Emergency Response Protocols
- Annual staff training
- Options-based intruder response practices adopted township-wide
- Emergency communication system for staff and parents
- Emergency Preparedness Plans (EPP) developed in collaboration with Northfield Township districts and Northbrook emergency responders
- Annual drills conducted in partnership with local police and emergency responders. These include:
- evacuation with rally points
- inclement weather
- Law enforcement and emergency responders have access to facilities, are familiar with our floor plans, and can gain access in an emergency.
Should an emergency situation occur, we need your cooperation and assistance. While it is every parent’s instinct to go to the school, please understand that no one will be allowed into a school or out of a school in a lockdown situation. Coming to the school will impede emergency responders.
You will be notified via text, phone and email through our emergency communications system with information and instructions. Information will also be posted on the district website and social media as soon as possible. If students need to be reunified with their families, they will only be released to their parents or authorized guardians listed on their emergency contact list. If you need to update any contact information, please work with your school’s administrative assistant. We ask for your cooperation and understanding as we will work diligently to respond swiftly and effectively in an emergency.
We hope this helps outline some of the measures in place should the district be faced with an emergency event. School safety and security is a partnership between students, staff, parents, community members, and local authorities. As a district, we all share in the goal of keeping our students and staff safe and appreciate you working with us to create a safe, caring learning environment for all.