Keeping all students safe is of paramount importance.
We take a systemic approach to school safety that is comprised of four major components:
- Social emotional learning, services and supports
- Emergency preparedness, plans and training
- Effective communication and reporting systems
- School facility and system improvements focused on safety and security
These efforts involve staff, students, and parents, as well as community partnerships with local fire and police departments, and mental health professionals. Here are some of the major programs and initiatives in place, intended to keep Snoqualmie Valley students and staff safe and secure.
Social Emotional Learning and Support for Students
The most important aspect of school safety is prevention and efforts around social emotional development begin at the earliest grade levels. Making sure we know each child and what’s going on in their lives helps us identify students needing extra support and to connect them and their families with services and resources. Our schools also employ a multi-tiered approach – Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) – to teach social skills and behavior expectations. PBIS strategies are embedded in curriculum and reinforced consistently throughout our schools.
Given the stress and pressures that students face today, our counselors and psychologists help support students. We cannot do this work alone so we also partner with local agencies like Friends of Youth, Sound Health, UW Forefront Suicide Prevention, and Empower Youth Network to increase access for students and families to social/emotional/mental health supports. In addition, we are in the process of hiring new social workers, behavior specialists and mental health counselor positions along with a new associate director of health services to oversee our expanded mental and physical health support programs.
We also participate in a program, funded by King County Dept. of Community and Human Services (DCHS) and based on UW Research, to help identify middle school students who may be struggling, and refer their families to supportive resources, if desired, in a safe and confidential manner. The Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Services (SBIRT) program has helped our district discreetly connect a number of families with mental health and other services in recent years.
The district also promotes programs to help students acquire skills to build healthy relationships, respect others, overcome adversity, and promote kindness and empathy, as well as how to deal with social and emotional challenges, and bullying and harassment.
See Something - Say Something
One of the most effective steps in keeping a school safe is “see something, say something.” We urge everyone in our school community to report anything that seems “off.” For those who prefer to report something anonymously, we offer a “Safe Schools Alert Tipline” so anyone can submit a safety concern via phone/text at 360-587-4726, email at email@example.com or by simply clicking on the “Report a Concern” button located on each of our school and district websites. Please be assured that our schools take EVERY report seriously.
Students are uniquely positioned to be aware of a troubled peer or someone who threatens to harm themself or others. We encourage families to talk about how to report a concern and why reporting is so important. For tips on how to have those conversations as well as address your student’s concerns about school shootings, this resource found on the American Psychology Association website may be helpful. Also, to understand a parent/guardian’s role during an emergency, and how you can best support your school and students during an emergency, please read this brochure.
Suicide Prevention Support, Training and Advocacy
Youth suicide is a tragic loss which impacts the entire community. To help all SVSD students stay safe, healthy, and feeling supported, this important topic continues to be a focus of support and education. Our schools have engaged students and staff in a variety of prevention activities in recent years, in partnership with experts around the state. Mount Si High School has participated as one of 29 high schools in King County in a three-year UW Forefront Suicide Prevention in Schools program that provided training, resources and support to schools. In 2018, a Mount Si student joined the Forefront team to testify before the state legislature to advocate for more prevention funding and mental health resources for all Washington State schools; read the full story. Find other Suicide Prevention Strategies implemented in SVSD schools, for ongoing education and awareness.
Further prevention efforts include training for staff, students, and parents. The district frequently brings in experts to address a variety of safety-related topics including: Anti-Bullying Campaigns, Kindness Campaigns, Expressing Gratitude, Cyber Safety, Suicide Prevention, Overcoming Adversity, Sexual Assault Prevention, Fentanyl Overdose Prevention, Stop the Bleed (staff training), and Active Shooter Survival. Some of these training sessions and programs were more frequent prior to COVID, and the coming school year provides the opportunity to revisit these important topics.
Parent Guide for School Emergencies
Have you ever wondered what you should do, as a parent, when your child’s school is in lockdown? Or, where to look for reliable information? This brochure summarizes a parent’s role during a school emergency -- how best to support a school and emergency responders on the scene, during an actual emergency event. It defines school protocols for evacuations, shelter-in-place, and lockdown responses, as well as instructs parents/guardians what they will need to know (and bring with them) for reunification with their child. Click here to read the Parent Guide for School Emergencies, and learn where to look for updated information from the District about an incident.
We are constantly reviewing our communications practices and resources to consider ways to streamline emergency notifications. We currently have systems in place to communicate quickly with families via text, automated phone calls, email, social media and our website. If you’re not receiving our communications, please contact your child’s school to make sure your contact information is up-to-date. In addition to electronic tools, between our schools and our district teams, we have emergency radio systems to facilitate real-time communication.
Comprehensive School Safety Plan & Protocols
Our district is continually assessing strategy, tools, and its overall approach to safety and security. SVSD has a comprehensive safety plan, and each school has a building-level plan that aligns to the district plan. The district’s Risk Assessment Team brings together local law enforcement, first responders, mental health professionals, social services, principals, and district administrators to review concerns and recommend safety interventions or enhancements.
Building Safety Enhancements
In recent years, we’ve made significant improvements to school facilities and operations aimed at safety and security, which was a big part of the 2015 Bond. Thanks to this investment, student safety and security was significantly improved in the redesign of the new Mount Si High School and through modifications and enhancements at all of our schools.
New visitor management systems were installed to help validate and monitor visitors on campus. New electronic door lock systems were added at all buildings to improve overall building security, monitoring, and provide automated lockdown capabilities. These systems work hand-in-hand with new internal communication systems that engage audio warnings with streaming messages on all the classroom clocks in the event of a lockdown, shelter-in-place or evacuation. Video surveillance cameras added throughout our campuses and school buses provide additional security.
We have made additional improvements to help further regulate public access to the buildings. During school hours, all visitors are required to enter the schoolhouse through the main entrance. Our schools lock their front doors during the school day and utilize a system that leverages a doorbell with audio and video capabilities so that office staff can view and speak with a visitor before granting the ability to enter the building. All staff and visitors must display badges. Our visitor management kiosks track who is in the building and we are currently investigating improved software for this system.
Fencing was added to several of our elementary schools to help secure buildings and playgrounds and we are currently evaluating improvements for schools that need more work in this area. We upgraded our exterior lighting for our schools to improve evening and night security. We are also reviewing practices and systems to make sure our classrooms are secure.
We’ve added new tools that have enhanced student safety and accountability while riding school buses. Our Bus Bulletin notification capabilities allow parents to sign up for notifications by text, call or email when their child’s bus is running at least 10 minutes late or in case of emergency. Additionally, our SmartTag System has improved our ability to track students on our buses, and notify families of delays or concerns through a free Parent Portal service. Surveillance cameras in and around our buses contribute to the safety of our students and drivers. This includes external stop paddle cameras to help enforce safety laws intended to protect children as they board and depart school buses.
School Resource Officer (SRO)
A School Resource Officer (SRO) is a full-time uniformed police officer who serves in the schools through a joint agreement with a city or county. The Snoqualmie Valley School District works with an officer from the Snoqualmie Police department, who is based at Mount Si High School. The officer not only provides a presence that promotes safety and security, but also connects with students. As the SRO gets to know students and gains their trust, the officer is often the person who students will confide in about possible safety concerns. Local law enforcement agencies prioritize schools in their day-to-day work. In addition to the school resource officer, other officers often visit the schools, as time permits.
Drills Prepare Staff and Students
Regular drills and practice for staff and students helps ensure that appropriate steps are followed consistently and automatically in an actual emergency. State law requires six fire drills each year. However, Snoqualmie Valley schools exceed the legal requirement and practice at least eight drills annually with students and staff. A lockdown drill is practiced three times each year, evacuation/fire drills are also done three times, along with a shelter-in-place drill, and another drill of the school’s choice (typically an earthquake drill).
Active Shooter Training
Prior to COVID, the District hosted a series of dynamic training sessions for all staff, all students in grades 6-12, as well as an evening session for parents/guardians. Nationally-recognized School Safety Expert Jesus Villahermosa conducted the sessions, and served as an advisor when the District updated its emergency response protocols and staff safety materials to reflect best practices in the event of an active shooter/intruder. We plan to bring back this training in the near future.