School Safety and Security Overview
Sherwood School District - June 2022
In recent weeks, the topic of school safety and security has become a significant focus of conversations, not only in our district and community, but nationally as well. While our district has shared information in the past about some of the safety and security features we have been able to implement in all of our buildings through the 2016 Capital Improvement Bond -- such as secure entry vestibules, badge-access controlled entry ways, and video surveillance -- we recognize that less may be known about other types of work being done in our district on this topic.
Below you will find additional information on some of the ongoing work of our teams to plan for and respond to issues of safety and security in the Sherwood School District. It is important to note that some details of specific safety measures, such as school-specific response protocols, are intentionally not made public at the recommendations of first responders and school security experts. This is to ensure that individuals who may pose a threat to our schools do not have knowledge about how to circumvent security protocols.
Standard Response Protocols and Emergency Drills
Sherwood School District, in partnership with the Sherwood Police Department, utilizes the Standard Response Protocol (SRP) for its emergency response procedure. The SRP provides school districts and law enforcement with a common language to define which responses will be used by a school or the District in the event of an emergency or safety issue. Additionally, the SRP terms and visual cues can be quickly understood and recognized by students, staff, and parents.
This year, the SRP responses were revised and now include five different actions: Hold, Secure, Lockdown, Evacuate, and Shelter. For those familiar with the previous version of the SRP, you will notice that Lockout is no longer one of the actions listed, having been replaced by Hold and Secure. The actions work as follows:
Hold - Students remain in classrooms with room doors locked, while learning continues as per normal (no students/staff in hallways or common areas)
Secure - Students are brought into the school building and outside building doors are locked, while learning continues as normal (students/staff may use hallways or other areas)
Lockdown - Full lockdown of building: Lights off, all doors locked, maintain silence, stay out of sight
Evacuate - All students/staff leave the building, moving to an identified safe location
Shelter - Use of appropriate response to an outside safety threat, such as tornado, earthquake, flood, etc.
Information about the SRP responses is reviewed with students and staff at the beginning of each school year, and regular drills are conducted on these actions at all SSD schools throughout the year. All drills are designed to be age-appropriate by building, while also providing students and staff with a chance to see what a response will look and feel like, including alarms or announcements.
In addition, several administrators and our School Resource Officer observe each school drill, and provide feedback for changes or improvements. Feedback is provided not only on the actions of staff and students, but also on the proper functioning of electronic and mechanical equipment that make our schools safer. Drills are an essential part of helping our students and staff know what to do in an emergency, as well as providing buildings with the opportunity to assess their readiness for potential emergency situations.
For more details on the Standard Response Protocol, please click on the flier below.
Emergency Preparedness Committee, Trainings, and Debriefs
Evaluating and training out the safety and emergency protocols of our district is ongoing work, and leading that work is our Emergency Preparedness Committee (EPC). The EPC consists of school principals, staff members from our Facilities and Transportation Departments, district-level administrators, and our School Resource Officer. This Committee meets monthly, and not only helps to provide leadership for the school emergency drills described above, but also regularly:
Plans emergency preparedness trainings for school staff and district leadership, including roleplaying of responses for specific types of events
Debriefs district incidents and makes recommendations for adjustments or improvements to District practices
Engages in case studies of national events (such as school shootings in other districts), applying learning from those case studies to district safety and security recommendations
Analyzes and addresses identified safety and security concerns district-wide, such as locking additional doors and gates to reduce entry points in school buildings
Recommendations from the EPC are shared regularly with district and school leaders, and help to inform the District’s ongoing growth in the area of emergency preparedness.
School Safety and Prevention
As a member of the Northwest Regional Education Service District (NWRESD), along with other Washington County school districts, we have established and refined specific protocols for school safety and prevention, including Board Policy JFCM which outlines District responses to threats of violence. A major component of our safety and prevention efforts includes our Student Threat Assessment (STAT) and Management System, which is designed for use with students who are engaged in circumstances that suggest the potential for aggression or violence directed at other people. This system also helps to develop a plan to protect any targeted student/s or staff.
Our STAT system consists of both multidisciplinary school site-based teams and a larger multi-agency team composed of District staff, the Sherwood Police Department, mental health providers, Juvenile Justice, DHS and outside community agencies. This team works together to assess the risk of potential safety issues and assists with developing a management plan and access to resources to both protect students and help struggling students to develop and employ healthy and safe coping strategies.
The STAT team is called upon anytime there is a report of a student threat and begins with an initial screening to gather facts from students, witnesses, parents, and teachers. If the initial screening concludes that there is a potential threat, aggression, or violence that could cause a danger to the school community, the team then moves the investigation to complete a Level 1 Threat Assessment with a safety management plan that is appropriate to the risk level. If further assessment is needed the community-based Level 2 team meets to complete a Level 2 assessment and safety management plans.
Through the use of the STAT system, school and District staff work collaboratively with students, families, and community partners to create intentional, thoughtful plans to return to learning, with structure in place to ensure safety for all members of the school community. These plans also provide ongoing monitoring and resources, to reduce the risk of additional or future threats.
Keeping our students and staff safe within secure buildings is of the highest priority, and while much of this work happens “behind the scenes,” it is a constant and ongoing focus for the leaders and staff of the Sherwood School District, as well as for our partners in the community. Acknowledging the potential for risks in our schools is scary, yet it is exactly this acknowledgement that drives our commitment to being prepared, monitoring and addressing risks, and doing all that we can to provide students and staff with a safe and well-protected learning environment.