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School Safety

The safety and security of students and staff continues to be a leading priority at APS.

APS is committed to providing learning environments that are healthy and safe for all students.

School Safety Coordinators (SSCs) support schools by helping to create and maintain safe learning and work environments for students and staff. In addition to supporting school safety & security, SSCs model and promote a positive, productive and safe campus climate.

鶹ӳ and the Arlington County Police Department work collaboratively on a shared commitment to safeguarding our schools. Always report any school safety issues, such as threats, dangerous rumors, drug use, theft, harassment, gang activities, weapons in a facility, and vandalism to Arlington County Police or a school administrator immediately.

School Safety Coordinators

What is a School Safety Coordinator?

All SSCs are required to have a certification through the Commonwealth of Virginia, which is a non-law enforcement certification designed to provide additional resources and training for those providing safety and security functions within our schools. SSCs are required to adhere to all APS policies and procedures, the Code of Virginia, Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) requirements and regulations, and the School Safety Officer Licensure Manual and Regulations.? The training program from DCJS consists of 16 hours of initial training with additional continuing education every two years.? 鶹ӳ SSC training program includes 60 hours of initial training with additional continuing education every year. SSCs are directly employed by APS and report to a supervisor within our Department of Safety, Security, Risk and Emergency Management.

SSCs do not have law enforcement authority, but do assist the school with responding to alleged violations of law or policy and behavioral issues. Because SSCs are APS employees, APS is able to manage behavioral and discipline outcomes for students without involving the juvenile justice system, unless students engage in specific criminal activity that qualifies as a referral to law enforcement in compliance with the and School Board Policy.

School Safety Coordinator Roles & Responsibilities

All School Safety Coordinators (SSCs) provide the following safety and security support functions:

  • Initiate contact with individuals on school grounds or surrounding property to assure visitor authorization.
  • Manage school access by monitoring gates and other points of entry throughout the school to ensure that students, staff, parents, guardians, visitors, vendors, and contractors are appropriately identified and escorted though the school building.
  • Assist school-based administration in performing searches of students and school property.
  • De-escalate issues between students, staff, parents, guardians, visitors, and community members while on school property as needed.
  • Escort students to and from class and the main office as requested by administrators and staff.
  • Assist administrators and law enforcement during emergency drills, investigations, and safety inspections.
  • Maintain a high level of visibility on school campus through hallway patrols during, before and after school hours.
  • Oversee and coordinate parking and bus regulations on school grounds and report accidents on school property.
  • Monitor and assist in controlling crowds at school-sponsored special events and athletic events.
  • Observe and report misuse of facilities, vandalism, or other unauthorized activities.
  • Work collaboratively with school administration and law enforcement personnel in the coordination of security services.
  • Respond to inquiries from students and parents regarding campus security issues for the purpose of providing information, direction and/or referrals.
  • Report observance of any evidence pertaining to criminal activity to school administration and law enforcement authorities as directed.
  • Assist with developing effective school-community relations and in maintaining a positive school climate that promotes a healthy and supportive school environment.

School Safety FAQ

APS works to ensure the safety of your children in the event that a serious incident occurs while school is in session. Each school staff has:

  • updated its emergency plans and met with public safety officials for them to review plans, monitor drills and provide professional input on any school-specific safety issues,
  • held staff orientations and reviewed emergency procedures,
  • held earthquake, fire evacuation, shelter-in-place, lock-down, and bus evacuation drills,
  • received updated weather and emergency alert radios, and
  • updated plans for students while on field trips or at away practices.

We coordinate our efforts with local authorities and agencies to help ensure the best possible care for our students. APS does use security cameras to enhance safety and security in our facilities. These security cameras are not monitored 24 hours per day but are recorded for later access by safety and security personnel as needed. The following list of frequently asked questions and their answers are provided to clarify expectations in a variety of possible situations.

Q: What if something occurs when students are away from the school building- on a bus, field trip, athletic event, etc?
A: Bus drivers all have two-way radios and will be directed to take students who are on buses to the nearest school or public building and maintain radio contact. Students on field trips or at away practices will be directed to enter the nearest building. Cell phone contact will be maintained with these groups.

Q: What is the policy for field trips?
A: Decisions about local, national and international trips are made on a case-by-case basis. For international field trips, 鶹ӳ does not allow travel to countries in current travel warning and current public announcements on the U.S. Department of State webpage. In keeping with the usual practice, parents who do not want their children to participate in field trips may opt out of them.

Q: What is secure the building?
A: In a situation where the police or other officials determine we need to keep students in the building and lock the outside doors because of a concern in the community (nearby bank robbery, for example) we will follow their direction and secure the building until directed otherwise.

Q: What does it mean when a school is in lock-down?
A: A lock-down may occur when police, other safety officials or staff determine it is necessary to contain students and staff in their classrooms with doors locked and building access limited to specific identified staff and safety officials. This may occur if there is a threat to the physical safety of students and/or staff, if there is a dangerous intruder in the building or for other reasons as deemed necessary.

Q: What does shelter-in-place mean? What will happen if schools are directed to do this?
A: If an event occurs that involves a chemical, biological or radiological contaminant, public safety officials may direct us to shelter- in-place. If that occurs, the school will be locked and secured. Signs will be posted stating no one is to enter or leave the site and students and staff will move to identified, safe locations in the building. HVAC systems, where possible, will be shut down and exterior doors will be secured to decrease exposure to outside air. Safety officials indicate there would be 10 to 20 minutes lead time for the alert, allowing time for students in portable classrooms and on school grounds to enter the building.

Q: How long do you expect a shelter-in-place situation will last?
A: Public safety and health officials advise that this condition would probably last for a matter of hours rather than days. This is the amount of time needed to isolate people while the effects of a chemical or biological incident dissipate. During this period of time students will not be released to anyone outside the building and outsiders will not be allowed into the building.

Q: What will happen if schools must shelter students in the buildings? How is that different from shelter-in-place?
A: If it is not possible to release students (traffic jams that prohibit buses from getting to or from school, damage to the surrounding area making a school inaccessible, etc.), it may be necessary to temporarily shelter students. If directed to shelter students, school administrators will coordinate efforts with county agencies to provide for the needs of students and staff. Students will be released as parents are able to reach school. Public service agencies will participate in managing the situation.

Q: If there were a lockdown or shelter-in-place situation, delaying children at school, how would my child get the medications that he takes at home?
A: For those critical medications to be given, you will need to follow the same procedure for medication that would be given during school hours and state that the medication is for emergency lockdown. The Authorization for Medication form will also need to be provided for each medication, completed by a parent and the childs doctor. Please discuss the details of these emergency plans with the nurse at your childs school.

Q: Are there any situations when you would evacuate from a school? What will happen if that occurs?A: If an incident occurs within a building, it may be necessary to evacuate students from a school. The destination of the evacuated students will depend upon the incident, the number of students evacuated and the conditions in surrounding areas. Evacuations will be coordinated with safety and health officials to ensure the needs of students are met.

Q: What if there is an earthquake?
A: In the event of an earthquake, the direction is to stay in place, crouch down close to the floor, get under or next to a desk or table, if available, and hold on to that piece of furniture. Students and adults will remain in that position until cleared. The school may then be evacuated if necessary.

Q: How can I find the most-up-to-date information about the status of school operations?
A: Parents are asked to refrain from calling the schools or administrative offices for this information to avoid tying up telephone lines that are vitally needed in an emergency. Information about any changes in operations C whether at an individual school or system wide C will be communicated through local media outlets, on Comcast Cable Channel 70 and Verizon Fios Channel 41, on our website at , via APS School Talk, Facebook and Twitter, and by recorded message (in English and Spanish) on our hotline at 703-228-4277.

APS & Law Enforcement Partnership

The 鶹ӳ (APS) And Arlington County Police Department Memorandum of Understanding (September 12, 2023) outlines mutual expectations regarding the ways that ACPD and APS will partner to achieve the shared goals of promoting supportive, safe and secure schools for students, faculty and staff. The MOU was updated on March 10, 2022 and redefines and reimagines the partnership between APS and ACPD.

The broad goals of the MOU are:

  • Reduce student involvement in the criminal justice system by having student disciplinary issues handled within the school building by school administrators;
  • Protect student rights afforded to them legally under all federal, state, and local laws;
  • Formally detail the specific situations as referenced in the Code of Virginia when students are to be referred to law enforcement; and
  • Control access to student information as mandated by FERPA.

More specifically, the MOU aims to:

  • Foster timely, clear communication and collaboration about safety and security matters affecting schools.
  • Collaborate with other County services, advocates, and service providers to increase access to resources to support students and families (for example, counselors, drug and alcohol specialists, and family support services).
  • Provide law-related education to students and staff and expand school safety and crime prevention education efforts.
  • Increase mechanisms to equip the schools to safely reduce conflict, and support effective non-punitive interventions for students.
  • Provide guidance to staff on school safety and security issues, including assessments and emergency planning.
  • Continue to implement positive interactions with students and ACPD, including on substance abuse prevention and educational programs on understanding your rights.
  • Decrease students potential involvement with the criminal justice system through education and enhanced in-school support services.
  • Collaborate on planning and preparing for matters related to the safety of schools and students, staff, and administrators.
  • Facilitate regular positive interactions between law enforcement and students in schools, including educational programming, substance use prevention, after-school activities, sporting events, and other non-enforcement interactions.
  • Provide supplemental external support for APS during the school day and provide staffing for extracurricular events as requested by APS using the special event and activity guidelines, as staffing permits.
  • Participate together on the APS Safety Audit Committee supporting the development of APS emergency operations plans and exercises and will offer assistance to individual schools when resources are available and coordinated with the Department of Safety, Risk and Emergency Management.
  • Respond to emergencies, ensuring ACPD has full access to APS facilities for the purpose of keeping students, staff, and administrators safe from an ongoing threat.
  • Maintain communication about developing scenarios that may impact schools if not directly originating from a school.
  • Cooperate on ACPD investigations and actions, with respect to criminal investigations where the criminal activity took place on school property, without hindering or interfering with their law enforcement duties.
  • Provide training for APS staff and administrators on relevant topics to include restorative practices, student-centric approaches to de-escalation, cultural competency, equity impact analysis, trauma informed approaches, alternatives to school Student Code of Conduct sanctions, and relevant Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) curriculum as deemed appropriate for external collaboration with ACPD.

Know Your Rights: Interacting with Law Enforcement

鶹ӳ wants to make sure our secondary students know their 4th and 5th Amendment rights and have all the resources they need to? become informed, civic-minded members of society.

Since 2018 we have provided students with a Know Your Rights Guide and a Canvas course. The course goals are to:

  • Remind students to remain calm and respectful when interacting with law enforcement;
  • Suggest language that students can use to express their rights; and
  • Provide information regarding searches.

Additional resources about juvenile interactions with law enforcement include:

  • Arlington County Police Department (ACPD)
  • American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
  • American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

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Contact

Aaron Queen, Director of School Safety and Emergency Management
aaron.queen2@apsva.us