Safety and Security
Student and employee safety is the first concern of Vestavia Hills City Schools. In the event of a crisis, natural disaster, or inclement weather situation, we want all parents and stakeholders to be assured that our top priority is the safety and security of all who are on our campuses.
HOW WE PREPARE
Vestavia Hills City Schools annually updates our emergency response procedures. These procedures provide our faculty, staff, and administrators specific instructions to respond to various events, including severe weather, natural disasters, or other crises that might occur in and around our schools. These procedures are used in annual safety and security training for all employees. In addition, we frequently conduct emergency response drills to practice and improve the effectiveness of our response to various situations.
We have a joint agreement with the City of Vestavia Hills to provide each school with a School Resource Officer. Members of local law enforcement agencies regularly train in our schools and maintain access that enables them to respond without delay in any situation. We meet quarterly with city and county officials and other agencies that assist our school system in emergencies.
The school system maintains an active crisis response team which includes administrators, licensed professional counselors, law enforcement, fire and medical emergency responders, city leaders and other individuals who are always ready to respond. Activation of the crisis response team occurs whenever a school needs additional support.
HOW YOU CAN PREPARE
During any crisis, natural disaster, or severe weather situation, we will provide information to parents and stakeholders as quickly as possible after the situation is contained. Vestavia Hills City Schools has implemented VH Connect, a mass notification service that enables us to contact parents and guardians by telephone, text message, and email. To ensure you receive these important messages, promptly notify your child’s school of any updates or changes to your family’s contact information. VH Connect may also be used by school groups and athletic teams to send out important information.
The following are terms and descriptions that we use with our students and staff during emergencies:
Shelter In Place
This phrase might be used, for example, during severe weather or a hazardous material incident. A tornado warning requires students to take shelter in an inner hallway or room and stay there until the threat has passed. These areas have been reviewed and approved by the Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency. During a shelter-in-place emergency, doors are closed to the public and school operations (such as student checkout) are suspended until the threat has passed.
This term is used when we are notified of a potential threat in the vicinity of the school. If a secured perimeter is needed, normal classroom activities will continue with restricted entry and limited, supervised movement within buildings. Parents and guardians are asked to stay away from campus during a secured perimeter to avoid entering a potential threat area. Entries and exits are monitored during this type of situation; students will not be released to leave the building until we receive an all-clear by the appropriate agency.
A lockdown takes place if a threat or possible threat is identified inside the school or on the campus. Instruction and all student movement is ceased. All exterior and interior doors are locked and students are secured in their classrooms. No one (except appropriate emergency response personnel) will be allowed to enter or leave the building/campus to avoid hindering emergency response teams arriving at the school. In the event of a lockdown, parents should monitor VH Connect and school websites for information about any possible evacuation of the building and parent reunification.
When students have been evacuated from a school or when an emergency has occurred that affects the location of dismissal, a parent reunification area will be established. At this location, parents will be updated concerning the situation and the plans for reunification with their child(ren). As with any other school day, a student may only be released to an adult who is listed as an emergency contact on school records, so be sure to keep that list updated. Anyone attempting to pick up a student must show proper photo identification. In cases where students will be released from the school, students who have obtained a parking permit will be able to sign themselves out at the time of the release.
Remember to keep your contact information updated with your child’s school, and talk with your children about the importance of all safety drills at school. By preparing now, we can all work together to ensure that our students are protected for learning without limits.