Safety Practices at District 99
Overview of safety practices and measures at District 99
Safety is the top priority at District 99, and keeping our schools safe at all times for students, staff and visitors. Our safety practices and measures include:
At each school’s main entrances, which remain open throughout the school day, trained security staff check in visitors. Visitors must wait in a secured vestibule while their government IDs are checked and visitor badges are issued. Once visitors are granted clearance, they are admitted into the building from the vestibule. All other doors are locked and secured after the start of each school day.
Safety Task Force
We evaluate and modify our safety and security plans as an ongoing practice. A Safety Task Force, which includes community police, fire and school personnel, meets regularly to recommend changes in practices, personnel, facilities and technology to make our schools safer. The team has made numerous recommendations over the years, including adding additional video cameras, running a variety of safety drills and expanding the security personnel team, which has provided both schools with a higher level of safety expertise.
Each year, our staff and students participate in training sessions and drills to prepare for worst-case scenarios in our schools. Staff members participate in an annual emergency lockdown/violent intruder simulation to practice their response to such an event. Working with the police and other emergency response professionals, District 99 trains its staff members to deploy A.L.I.C.E. (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate) emergency response techniques.
The drills may include activation of the rapid emergency response system, BluePoint. Inside both buildings, blue police alarm pull-stations, similar to red fire alarm pull-stations, are strategically placed throughout the schools. When the alarm is activated, police first responders are immediately notified, loudspeakers throughout the buildings broadcast emergency information, and strobe lights are activated both inside and outside the building.
These drills are in addition to the standard safety drills, including fire, severe weather and bus evacuation.
We will always inform everyone in advance of a lockdown test or drill. In the case of an actual emergency, students, families and staff members automatically receive school and emergency email alerts. Families should visit the Home Access Center and staff should visit the Employee Access Center to make sure your information is updated.
In an emergency situation, families should not come to the school. Rather, they should wait for updates and instructions will be provided via email and text to families. We also ask that families use caution when referencing social media channels, as these can be sources of misinformation and rumors.
Circumstances may occur at school that require families to pick up their students in a formalized, controlled release; this may be at our schools or at a different location. The process of a controlled release is called "reunification," and ensures that there is an accountable change of custody from the school to a recognized guardian. Reunification may be necessary due to weather, a power outage or other crisis. If we need to enact our reunification plan, you will receive instructions via text, email and our websites.
Periodically we conduct unannounced safety searches, which include the use of canines. In general, searches are completed in less than 30 minutes and are conducted by law enforcement officers. These searches provide us with an additional layer of security to our comprehensive safety plans and are commonplace in schools and other public facilities.
Police Department Partnership
For over 40 years, District 99 has partnered with the Downers Grove Police Department (DGPD) in support of the School Resource Officer (SRO) program. SROs are regular police officers employed by the police department and who have the same powers as police officers on the street, but who work inside the school buildings as armed and plain-clothed members of the police department. They work with school staff to ensure that students are safe and focused on learning. Officers are typically assigned to a school for three years. One officer is stationed at North High, and one is stationed at South High.
SROs work with administrators, deans and counselors, developing crime prevention strategies and providing input and leadership in the district’s crisis planning. The officers are also responsible for all criminal investigations and complaints that take place within the school. They also conduct informative presentations to students in a variety of different classes, covering topics such as internet safety, drinking and driving and living a healthy lifestyle.
In addition to the school resource officers, our local first responders have access to our video cameras to assist in the event of an emergency.
Our Student and Staff Community
The people in and around our schools are an essential resource for ensuring student and staff safety. People who are at risk often show signs or signals before an act of violence happens. If you see something, say something. At the top right-hand of every page of our website is an icon (a red comment bubble), which leads to our D99 Crisis Reporting and Resources page and a link to Safe2Help Illinois for students to connect with a trained crisis professional during a time of need.
Please know that we take immediate action and in partnership with the Downers Grove Police Department, investigate all threats in order to quickly determine how to respond. We take all threats seriously, and we follow our discipline protocol to assign the necessary consequences.
We also have extensive support systems inside of our schools for students in crisis or who are facing life challenges. Students who are struggling with social-emotional issues are supported by our counselors, psychologists, social workers and a student assistance coordinator. Every student is assigned to a team of experts that is dedicated to their well-being. Teams meet regularly to identify students who may need additional support, brainstorm interventions and assess the effectiveness of the interventions.
Parents play an essential role as partners with us in identifying students that might need additional help and should reach out to us if they need resources.
Your Role in Safety and Security
In a world with ever-changing challenges and dangers, it is essential that our entire community is united. We appreciate your help and support in our safety efforts. If you ever see or hear of a concern that our schools should be aware of, please do not hesitate to reach out using the tools on our website, or email, call or stop by and see an administrator.
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