School safety is a key priority at Conestoga Valley, and it has been for decades. Over the last several years, the district has been proactive in developing a sophisticated infrastructure to deal with emergency situations ranging from school intruders to natural disasters.
Conestoga Valley’s safety task force is a standing committee that regularly reviews the district’s security policies and procedures, making recommendations for improvements. The committee includes administrators, a board member, teachers and staff as well as representatives from local police and fire departments and area hospitals. The group collaborates in scheduling different drills and training for students and staff.
The district participated in the federal government’s $30 million Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) grant program from 2009-2011. The grant provided for intensive training on emergency management and effective safety drills as well as the purchase of equipment such as surveillance cameras and emergency communications systems. During the grant period, the district conducted an audit of each building to uncover any potential safety issues that needed to be addressed.
Additional emergency preparations include:
- School Resource Officer. As a full-time officer with the East Lampeter Township Police Department, this individual maintains an office in CV High School and is a visible, approachable law enforcement presence in all CV schools.
- All-Hazards Planning. The district has developed a detailed plan for some 20 different scenarios, such as building intruders, fires or chemical spills, bus accidents, natural disasters and even flu pandemics. Though it is impossible to plan for every scenario, the plans are general enough that the key steps and principles apply to nearly any emergency situation.
- Building Incident Command Systems. A clear command system is in place in each school building, ensuring that no matter what individual takes charge of an emergency situation, he or she will be equipped with the tools to manage effectively.
- Crisis Communication Plan. The district’s crisis communication plan clearly identifies the specific roles of all key crisis communication staff from the superintendent to the public relations specialist to building principals and secretaries. The guiding philosophy of the crisis communication plan is to provide the public with timely, accurate and consistent information while protecting the safety of all students and employees.
- Child Reunification Planning. The district has specific plans for orchestrating the reunification of parents and children in an emergency, including means of communication with parents.
- Regular Safety Drills. The safety task force develops an annual schedule of different drills, including school lockdown, secure classroom, shelter-in-place and fire drills—all taking place during the school day and involving students and staff. The committee also leads “table-top” drills, which are simulations of emergency situations for administrators and staff. First responders from several local agencies recently participated in a full functional drill at CV Middle School.
- Secured Access. All CV schools have a single, secure access point (the main office) and are equipped with security cameras for constant surveillance of hallways and locked entry points.