The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office and Seminole County Public Schools share a unique relationship in providing school safety to every student, faculty, staff, and visitor that comes onto a public school campus. We are proud to share that long before there was a state mandate, there was a School Resource Deputy or Officer on each SCPS campus. We did this because we know that keeping our students safe should be our top priority, and that means providing safe, tranquil environments for them to learn and thrive in.
Over the past several weeks, our organizations have collaborated on developing new procedures related to emergency drills, to ensure that our schools continue to be a safe environment for everyone. These procedures were not only developed using recommendations by the School Safety Division of our organizations but also through information collected at Student Forums. SCPS continues to host these forums, where students are encouraged to share their thoughts firsthand on the best ways to be taught in times of crisis. We value the importance of the student voices in this matter, and these forums are a vital part of the processes in creating procedures that affect them. In fact, including them embodies the values that make SCPS the “A”-rated district it is.
We feel it is important to share some highlights of the new procedures:
* As previously announced, we have discontinued the use of “unannounced” Code Red Drills, meaning that all future emergency drills will provide for notice to the students, staff, faculty, visitors, and parents before the exercise occurs.
* We have several layers of communication redundancy at the school and district level to ensure all stakeholders have advance notice of emergency drills as well as timely notice of real-world incidents should one occur.
* We will continue providing ongoing education and training efforts surrounding these events in the classroom and school campuses. This includes training on the use of school safety technology and when the use of mass communication functions are needed inside or outside of the school environment.
* We will utilize consistent messaging across our campuses during drills and incidents to ensure everyone understands the message or situation.
* These procedures are developed keeping in mind best practices, lessons learned, collaboration, legislative guidelines, as well as stakeholder input.
* Lockdowns continue to be initiated by any district employee or law enforcement official. The primary objective of lockdowns is to quickly ensure all students, staff, faculty, and visitors are secured in rooms away from potential and immediate danger. This means that interior and exterior doors are locked, a refuge is to be sought in the classroom hard/safe corners, and all persons are to remain in their location from the time a lockdown is initiated.
Additionally, we want to encourage parents and guardians to make sure that the school district has the most up-to-date contact information to receive the prompt delivery of any emergency messaging.
Developing procedures on topics like these require a significant strategic commitment by both of our organizations, as well as leadership across our community and in our schools. To keep our students, faculty, and staff safe we committed to placing school safety at the forefront of our agendas years ago, and we share that sentiment to this day, even as the environments and threats have changed.
We appreciate your continued investment in the safety of our campuses and our community.
Dr. Walt Griffin
Seminole County Public Schools
Dennis M. Lemma
Seminole County Sheriff’s Office