Allegheny Valley School District lays out safety plan
Allegheny Valley School District officials laid out their plans to keep students safe at school during a parent information session on Thursday.
During the afternoon and evening presentations, administrators explained the district's Emergency Management Plan to parents.
About 30 parents attended the two sessions.
Led by Jan Zastawniak, district spokeswoman, and Greg Heavner, the elementary supervisor, the meeting detailed what steps Allegheny Valley has taken to ensure calm responses to emergencies, as well as what the district plans to work on in the future.
Three were several references to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
Zastawniak said that after the shootings, Allegheny Valley reviewed its safety policies.
Last week, administrators and teachers spoke to the students about what to do in the event of a lockdown in the school.
“We had some straightforward talking,” Heavner said. “It could be scary, but the students were very, very good at understanding why we need to do it. I was very satisfied and happy that our students knew what I was talking about.”
The district also reviewed safety procedures, and had a retired police officer who works with the Allegheny County Intermediate Unit review the layout of the elementary schools.
There are some new policies in place for visitors in light of the attacks, which will be detailed in a letter sent home to parents.
Visitors will need to be buzzed into a safety vestibule in the school where they will explain to a secretary the reason for their visit.
If the secretary can confirm the visitor's reason for entering the school they will be buzzed into the school. Visitors will then have to show photo identification to the secretary.
Allegheny Valley is also looking into identification systems, which would alert secretaries if there is any reason a visitor should not be in the school.
Since Sandy Hook, the district has worked to ensure that all of the doors in the school lock and that teachers know the safety procedures.
Some parents don't think the district has gone far enough.
“With all these procedures in place, do you have anything you would have done that would have prevented or slowed somebody like a Sandy Hook attacker?” asked parent Brad Yaksich.
Several suggested that the school should place armed guards in the schools, or train and arm teachers.
Superintendent Cheryl Griffith said that the district is still considering many options for protecting students from an attack like the one at Sandy Hook.
“We're here to educate students,” she said. “But staff and student safety has to be our number one priority. We want to make a thoughtful, well-informed decision. The door is not closed on that thought; its part of the research.”
Heavner added that other options, such as bullet-proof glass and surveillance systems, are being investigated.
This year, the district is focusing on building procedures that focus on safety.
Hand-held radios will be given to one teacher per grade level in the elementary buildings and one teacher per wing or area in the high school. The district hopes that this will enable teachers to communicate quickly during an emergency.
Also this winter, the district is planning a drill exercise at the Junior-Senior High School with local EMS and county and state agencies. This is a part of the district's annual drill program.
Schools regularly hold fire, evacuation, weather, lockdowns and bus evacuation drills.
A priority for the district after a safety review by the state police is to add signs to the buildings to better direct visitors to designated areas.
Zastawniak stressed the importance of updating emergency contact information with the school so that parents can be easily reached.
Kate Wilcox is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Smaller properties in Alle-Kiski Valley remain attractive to drillers
- Man in New Kensington standoff charged
- 2 New Kensington-Arnold candidates removed from primary ballot
- Freshman arrested in Burrell High School bomb threat
- Eagle egg breaks, parents abandon nest
- Leadership Butler County aims to benefit community with pavilion project
- Leechburg hosts vigil to halt drugs, violence in the community
- Plum police search for home invasion suspect
- Oakmont bridge, New Kensington overpass near finish line
- Penn Hills driver charged in hit-and-run in Oakmont
- Bomb threat clears Apollo-Ridge High School