Tracking lockdowns at San Diego County schools
With schools across San Diego County starting a new academic year, district officials have been busy educating parents and students on campus safety. For school districts, the safety of students is a top priority.
"It’s doing our due diligence, it's being prudent, it's staying in front. It's trying to anticipate and respond now versus being on our heels and having to react."
10News Segment and Article
Anonymous threat leads to lockdowns in San Diego schools, offers glimpse into campus response
“At this point, we will be going into a lockdown situation. Please remain in class, please lock all doors, please put blinders, covers down on windows. Please remain as quiet as possible in classes and stand by for more directions.”
Students and teachers closed the blinds, turned off the lights, and sat on the floor with their backs against the walls. In at least one room, students barricaded the door with a desk."
“I hate this part of it, that kids have to have this as part of their experience."
Pomerado News Article
“School safety never stops. It’s 24-7.” - Tim Ware, SDCOE School Safety Coordinator
Following the most recent school shooting as well as lockdowns at multiple PUSD schools, we know that many have wondered about the safety protocols at our own school campuses. We wanted to review the measures that have been put into place over the past 4 years.
Securing Campus Exteriors
In 2018-19 Guidepost and PUSD conducted a thorough safety analysis of each school and office building to identify any vulnerabilities. Based on this report, PUSD:
Partnerships with Law Enforcement & County Office of Education
- Reinforced fencing and gates (this work is ongoing)
- Limited access points onto campus (this work is ongoing)
- Restricted traffic flow and drop-off and pick-up protocols
- Installed security cameras
- Implemented a visitor management system
- Hired additional Campus Security personnel at secondary schools (middle and high school level)
- Updated our emergency notification system to enable a text feature that parents and staff can opt into
- Installed Rapid Access Systems at each of our schools allowing first responders immediate access into secure buildings
- Conducts annual vulnerability walks with County school safety specialists to identify areas of improvement
Community Vigilance/Reporting/Parents as Partners
- School resource officers from SDPD and Poway Sheriff's Department patrol our neighborhoods and schools on a daily basis, with extra patrol following any suspicious activity
- Law enforcement monitor the anonymous 24-hour PUSD tipline: 1-844-PUSD-TIP
- Law enforcement and County school safety specialists also provide our staff with active shooter and threat assessment training and serve on our threat assessment teams
Social/Emotional/Mental Health Supports
- The See Something, Say Something program at every secondary school helps teach students to look for warning signs of students about to hurt themselves or others
- The PUSD Tipline (1-844-PUSD-TIP) is printed on the back of every secondary student’s ID card and QR codes are placed on flyers and visible throughout secondary campuses so students can easily report suspicious behavior
- Our Content Keeper web monitoring tool flags keyword searches that might indicate harm to self or others
- We offer parent education workshops such as What I Wish My Parents Knew throughout the year
- Every school has a Site Safety Committee and PUSD also has a District School Safety Committee which meets twice a year
Training and Preparation
- PUSD hired additional counselors at every school
- PUSD hired social workers to help support students at every high school and at the two largest middle schools; NOTE: as of August 2022, every middle and high school will have one full time social worker
- We increased the hours for our student support specialists and assistants at every school to lead more lessons focused on supporting a positive school culture: equity and inclusion, anti-bullying, Anti-Defamation League’s No Place for Hate, Sandy Hook Promise’s Start with Hello, etc.
- In collaboration with the County Office of Education, PUSD re-trained school site threat assessment teams (a minimum of 14 hours of instruction) at every school in the District this last fall. Participants included administrators, school counselors and psychologists, and Student Services Specialists; PUSD also re-trained crisis response teams
- Peer counselors were also trained and equipped to help other students struggling with social and/or emotional challenges
- We piloted PASS Universal Attitudinal Screener, assessing every sixth and ninth grade student’s mental health in the District
Every school site has a comprehensive School Site Safety Plan, which is reviewed and updated annually. Additionally, our students and staff practice a variety of drills (fire, earthquake, secure campus, shelter in place, lockdown, etc) multiple times a year. We realize it can be frightening when a lockdown is actually happening for those experiencing it, but as recent events show, the regular practicing of lockdown procedures allows students and staff to know how to respond in an emergency. The events surrounding a lockdown roughly follow this timeline:
- Law enforcement notifies us of the need to go into lockdown. This means students and staff stop what they are doing, close all window coverings and doors, turn off the lights, get low to the floor and remain out of sight, barricading the door if necessary. Students should not be on their mobile devices or social media during lockdown. Each classroom is equipped with a lockdown kit, which includes a first aid kit, flashlights, exit route maps, and a bucket and seat if students need to use the restroom during extended lockdowns (*Note - This is different from “secure campus” mode, during which teaching and learning continues inside classrooms behind locked doors and no one is allowed on or off campus)
- Staff will receive notification of the lockdown via intercom, text, and email
- Parents will receive notification of the lockdown via text/email
- Parents should not come to the school site as this can distract or hinder law enforcement from their emergency response
- Law enforcement notifies the school when the lockdown is lifted
- Staff and Parents will receive a notification when the lockdown is lifted and any pickup instructions
In addition to practicing lockdown drills, staff have been trained in the Run, Hide, Fight protocols created by the US Department of Homeland Security.
In early September, we will host another School Safety Summit to identify areas of improvement and to go further in depth to review the above safety measures we have taken to ensure your child is safe. Just like the School Safety Summits hosted earlier this school year, we will be joined by an expert group of panelists including local law enforcement and mental health professionals. We will share the date and time with you when this is scheduled. Until then, please know that school safety does not take a day off. It is on our minds 365 days a year, and we will continue to do our very best to ensure our schools remain the safest place for our students and staff.