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Safety is a District Focus

Yelm Community Schools is focusing on safety issues throughout the district and creating a sense of security for all students, staff and visitors. Corrina DuRocher is leading this work in her role as Assistant Director of Student Support and Safety. She is coordinating a district wide initiative to review current safety procedures and continue to train and educate staff and community on ensuring a safe environment for our students to learn in.

Work began this summer by coordinating efforts with the Yelm Police Department. In partnership with Chief Stancil and a various officers, tours have been conducted of each campus through the lens of a first responder. Discussions with building administrators and facility staff included current evacuation procedures, entrance and exit protocols, maps of the building layout, reflective numbering, signage for visitors, lighting, and communications systems. Best practices emerged that will be shared with all buildings. For example, Prairie Elementary has a “Power Outage Cart.” This has a variety of flashlights, lanterns, and batteries charged and ready to roll.

As an initial outcome, an Emergency Procedures sign has been created and will be placed on the door of every classroom and exit throughout the district. “Having this in plain sight for students, staff and visitors will be a constant reminder on how to respond when an emergency does occur,” DuRocher shared. Currently all classrooms have a flip chart with detailed emergency instructions that is being updated based on the tours and changing protocols from law enforcement. All staff reviewed safety protocols in August and will be conducting regular evacuation and lock down drills with students. Practicing again helps everyone know their role and how to stay calm and collected in an emergency situation. Yelm will also participate in the Washington Great ShakeOut drill on October 18 at 10:18am.

Tragic events around the country and close to home have required schools to think about how to respond to what seem to be unthinkable scenarios. In July, Corrina DuRocher, YHS Asst Principal Thad Nelson, and Student Resource Officer (SRO) Jerad Geray attended ALICE Training to learn how to respond to an active shooter scenario.  This national training drew in churches, business, and schools and focused on response protocols.  All administrators were introduced to the ALICE model and are continuing to discuss ways to implement these practices within their buildings. 

A – Alert

L – Lockdown

I – Inform

C – Counter

E – Evacuate

Partnership with law enforcement is critical in our ability to respond and communicate during a crisis situation.  This summer Yelm held the first table top discussion between the district and Yelm PD using the 2015 North Thurston High School incident as a model.  These open conversations help break down lines of communication and improve decision making between the district and law enforcement.

This is just the beginning. Work has also started on developing four community safety forums bringing in experts.  Our Safety Series kicks off November 28 with a panel discussion on Making Schools Safe. Future topics include HIB/Cyberbullying/Human Trafficking, Mental Health/Suicide Prevention and Positive Parenting.  Watch for details about these community event dates to be posted on the district website and social media.