SAFETY IS OUR PRIORITY
Empire Union School District is committed to making schools safe for all students and staff. We work closely with local and state agencies including police, fire, emergency medical services and public health officials to ensure that we are well prepared and children are protected. Every school has an up-to-date safe school plan, and so does the District. These plans are practiced and annually reviewed to make sure employees and students know what their role would be in the event of an emergency. District staff and parents who serve on the school site council at each school are also involved in overseeing preparedness efforts.
Should an emergency occur, school officials and emergency responders will first do what is needed to secure a facility for the safety of students, and then work to inform parents with accurate and complete information. We recognize the importance of communicating with parents when an emergency occurs at their child’s school, and make it a priority to reach out to parents quickly using multiple communication channels (telephone, email, Parent Square, Internet, etc.). If you hear of an emergency from your student prior to hearing about it from the school site, please know it is because the school staff acts first to secure the safety of students and staff, and next to communicate the situation to parents.
All visitors and volunteers arriving on an Empire Union campus during the school day are expected to sign in at the school’s administrative office and receive a visitor’s badge. School staff are always on the lookout for visitors, and will direct any visitor or volunteer without a badge to the main office for check-in using our Raptor visitor screening system.
What to do in the event of a school emergency
- The District will use its automated phone system (Parent Square), district, and school websites to communicate with parents.
- In order for the school district to keep you informed, make sure you keep current contact information on file with your child’s school.
- While a parent’s first instinct may be to head immediately to the school campus upon hearing of a possible emergency, before going to the school, check district information sources for directions to parents related to possible evacuation or student pick-up.
- Seek accurate information from reliable, official sources. Keep in mind that unofficial sources of information may have only partial, incorrect or unverified details. If you hear of an unverified rumor regarding a school safety issue, please contact the school to clarify the accuracy of the information.
- Empire Union’s emergency response protocols include processes for identifying rumors and verifying information before it is released to parents.
- Parents set the tone for their child’s emotional response to an emergency. Remain as calm as you can if your child contacts you during an emergency.
Tips to Prepare Your Family for an Emergency
Have a plan. Create a family emergency plan, and talk to your children about what your family would do in the event of an
emergency at school or in the community. California’s Emergency Management Agency has lots of information on how to create a Family Emergency Plan at www.calema.ca.gov (search for Family Disaster Plan).
- Keep your child’s emergency contact information at school up to date, including alternate phone numbers for you and family or friends authorized to pick your child up at school.
- Talk to your child about the importance of listening carefully and following directions in the event of an emergency.
- Discuss with your family ways to stay in touch with each other during an emergency whether at school or in the community and stress to your student the importance of staying off of cell phones unless specifically authorized during an emergency.
Terms that may be used during an Emergency Situation Lockdown
A lockdown is called when an immediate, serious threat is present against students or staff of a school. This may include the sighting of someone with a weapon on campus, a threat made against students or staff members, or other imminently dangerous situations that threaten campus safety.
During a lockdown, no one is allowed to enter or leave the facility. Students will be immediately gathered from hallways, restrooms and common areas and moved indoors. Doors will be locked and students will not be allowed to leave with a parent or guardian. All students will be accounted for by staff. Students on buses at the time a lockdown is called at their school would be held on the bus or rerouted to another location and parents informed. Any parents or visitors present when a lockdown is called will be directed to a room separate from the school’s emergency response center until the conclusion of the lockdown. School administrators will consult with local and district law enforcement to determine when it is safe to end the lockdown event.
Q. How do I know if a school is in lockdown?
A. The main entrance doors will be locked, and whenever possible, sign posted in the window. Empire Union’s emergency phone notification system will be used to alert parents to the school’s lockdown status.
Q. What should I do if my child’s school is on a lockdown?
A. Parents should:
- not go to a school site that is in lockdown, as they will not be allowed to enter, and their presence could jeopardize their safety or the safety of our students.
- use the information sources listed on this page to receive updates on the lockdown situation.
A Lockout is called when school officials are made aware of a potentially hazardous situation that may reach a district facility. If a facility alert is called, a school site is on heightened alert, however, doors will be locked and students will be allowed to leave with a parent or guardian. Students will be called indoors and accounted for, and movement around campus will be limited and occur under adult supervision. Parents and other school visitors on campus when a facility alert is called are free to leave the facility. A state of facility alert allows school personnel to be prepared to quickly move to a state of lockdown should the possibility of a threat escalate.
Q. What is the difference between a lockdown and a lockout?
A. In a lockdown situation, all classroom activity stops, and staff and students shelter out of sight. In a lockout, teachers continue classroom activities, but movement around a campus is limited and supervised by adults.
EVACUATE BUILDINGS / CAMPUS
A campus evacuation may be called when law enforcement and/or school administrators determine that student safety may be jeopardized by staying indoors or on campus. This could occur as the result of a possible fire, a bomb threat or a gas leak. In the event of a bomb threat, an evacuation decision is dependent on information received in the threat and factors influencing the credibility of the report. Each school has procedures in place for partial or complete evacuation, including multiple on- and off-site reunification locations. If necessary, plans are in place to provide transportation for students to alternate locations. Parents would be notified quickly should such an off-site evacuation occur. These notifications would include additional information about where to pick up your child. In the event of an evacuation that requires parent/guardian pickup, parents will be required to sign out their child. Students will be released only to an adult with proper identification who is on file with the school as an authorized emergency contact.
Security Measures within EUSD
In the Empire Union School District, we have extensive safety plans in place at every school, and we practice drills so that our staff and students are very familiar with these procedures. We also work collaboratively with the Modesto Police Department and the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department to provide another line of defense to protect our schools. In addition, we work directly with law enforcement personnel from the agency ‘Knowledge Save Lives’ to provide safety training to our school staff and to ensure our safety plans reflect best practices and protocols for safety.
Over the past few years, we have continued to focus efforts and resources towards providing all students and staff a safe learning and working environment. We have updated the entire phone system within EUSD to allow anyone the ability to initiate a ‘Lockdown’ from any phone on campus should they see any sort of security threat. We have updated our fire and alarm systems. We have tested and updated outside speaker systems. In doing so, students and staff can hear safety directions from any place on campus should they be outside. Considering each school has a single point of entry, we have installed Raptor visitor screening system at that single point of entry for each school. Raptor visitor screening provides integrated visitor, volunteer, and emergency management software that is solely built to protect schools from threat.
Most recently EUSD has installed outside security camera systems at all EUSD facilities. EUSD believes that reasonable use of security cameras will help the District achieve its goals for campus security. Cameras were not placed in areas where students, staff, or community members have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Signs indicating security cameras are in use will be posted at any gate or entrance for each EUSD facility. These signs will inform students, staff, and visitor that video monitoring may occur at any time. Video monitoring may be used in disciplinary proceedings, and that matters captured by the security camera may be accessed and referred to local law enforcement (Modesto Police Department and/or Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department), as appropriate.
Moving forward we will be installing keypad entry gates at each school in order for parents to safely deliver and/or access their children from our before school and/or after school programs. You, as parents and guardians, are part of the most effective resources we have for helping your children be safe at school. Those resources include strong two-way communication; reporting any threat of harm toward students to the school, law enforcement, or both; and using reasonable protocols together to create an environment that reassures our students that they are safe to learn.
Thank you for your continued support for the benefit of all EUSD students, families, and staff.