School Safety & Security

Preguntas frecuentes – seguridad y protección escolar: preparación para emergencia

What is Emergency Preparedness?
Emergency preparedness is the steps taken to keep students, staff and visitors safe from threats and hazards and to maintain safe and healthy learning environments. Each school has developed an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) to guide decision-making in the event of an emergency such as utility outage, fire, intruder, building evacuation or medical emergency.

How can I stay informed?
West Allis-West Milwaukee School District uses mass notification technology to send text/voice messages and emails alerting parents, guardians and custodial adults of emergency and non-emergency situations.  School closings can also be found on the District webpage.  Information will also be broadcast through local cable and media outlets. 

To ensure you will receive this important information, please update any changes in phone numbers and/or email addresses throughout the school year by contacting your child’s school.

How will my child’s school handle an emergency situation?
All schools have an EOP that includes checklists for dealing with specific types of incidents and resources to help before, during and after an event.  The specifics of each plan are particular to that school.  A response will differ according to the type and severity of the situation and according to the direction of local first responders who might be called to the scene. 

School staff receives monthly training in safety and security measures.  Standard response protocol procedures for lockdown, lockout, evacuation and shelter in place are posted in classrooms and around the school.  Students receive fire, tornado and safety drill training throughout the school year.  All District and individual school plans are reviewed on an annual basis. 

How will my child know what to do in the event of an incident?
Students receive fire, tornado, and safety drill training throughout the school year.  If a crisis occurs at school, their teacher or other building staff will direct them on what to do and where to go.  

Please talk to your child about the need for listening and specifically following directions during an emergency.

Will safety drill training be different depending on the age of my child?
Training for all WAWM School District students will be age appropriate. For older children, realistic situations can be introduced, prepared for and discussed.  Younger children will need more direction than older children. Experts recommend that younger children not be taught Intruder drills like fire drills but rather they be taught a set of behaviors to follow when directed to by their teacher or other building staff member without explaining the reason behind the directive.  

As a parent, what should I do during an emergency at my child’s school?
Your first impulse when you hear there is an emergency at your child’s school may be to come to school and wrap your arms around your son or daughter.  As hard as it is, we recommend that you do not come to the school.

 The first priority of the school staff and first responders during an emergency is to keep students, staff and visitors already in the building as safe as possible.  The second priority is to reunite all involved with their loved ones once the threat or the situation has been resolved. 

 Depending on the circumstances, the school may be in lockout or lockdown protocol that allows no one in or out of the building so if you came to the building you would still not be able to see your son or daughter. 

The District will keep families updated using the mass notification system.  Students will be allowed to text parents, guardians or custodial adults to let them know they are okay.  Parents, guardians and custodial adults are encouraged to text their students and ask them to remain calm and to listen to direction.

Can I see the EOP for my child’s school?
WAWM School District does not release this type of specific information. 

What is a lockdown?
Lockdown is a procedure to secure school buildings, facilities and grounds to protect students, staff and visitors from any incident that poses an immediate threat of violence. Situations that may require Lockdown are active threat/active shooter, intruder/suspicious person or serious injury/death/suicide. This is not a business as usual procedure. Lives may be at stake. 

During a lockdown, no one is permitted to enter or leave the building, except first responders until the “all clear” signal is given. 

What is lockout?
Lockout procedures outline the securing of the perimeter of the school building: doors locked, students who are outside return to building with their teachers, no one else enters or leaves during the Lockout, except for first responders. Situations that may require Lockout are intruder/suspicious person or missing student/kidnapping. Requests from first responders due to unsafe neighborhood conditions may also trigger a lockout response. 

What is evacuation?
Evacuation procedures outline steps to be taken in the case of a necessary removal from any and all sections of the school buildings or grounds.  Evacuation includes moving students from one section of the building to another section within the building, moving from the building to the grounds, moving from the grounds to an off-site alternative location. 

What is shelter in place?
Shelter in Place is a procedure that keeps students, staff and visitors indoors because it is safer than being outside. Situations that may require this procedure are Hazardous Materials Spill / Release of Toxic Chemicals or Severe Weather.

What is classroom hold?
Classroom hold procedures keep students in their classrooms due to some incident occurring in the hallways. Situations that may require this procedure are medical emergency, non-hazardous material spill or partial building collapse.

What is reunification?
Reunification is the process of systematically reuniting students with their parents/guardians/custodial adults in a controlled setting. Circumstances may occur at the school that requires adults listed on the student’s emergency contact form to pick up their student using a formalized, controlled release. These circumstances may include power outage, hazardous materials spill, severe weather, or a crisis. 

Reunification may occur at a different location than the school. The age of the student and the seriousness of the circumstance will determine the need for formal reunification procedures.

Situations that require a Standard Reunification also require that the student be released only to a person named on the Emergency Contact Form.

Once a decision has been made to implement a Controlled Release or Standard Reunification, parents, guardians or custodial adults will be notified through the District’s mass notification system. 

Students are expected to try to remain calm while waiting for release and to listen and comply with staff direction. They may be asked to text or call parents, guardians or custodial adults to let them know they are okay or give them some direction, like reminding them to bring their ID. 

Students will be asked not to send other texts or make other calls while they are waiting because it might be important to keep cellular network usage to a minimum.

Students who are 18 or older are allowed to leave after going through the checkout process at the Reunion Area.  They will be directed through the process by school staff.

Parents are expected to bring photo identification.  The quickest way to be reunited with your son(s) or daughter(s) is to have a valid ID and to listen to the directions given by staff.  If a parent or guardian cannot pick up his/her child(ren), they should send someone who is listed on the child’s Emergency Contact List. Children will not be released to persons not on the Emergency Contact List.

Parents are expected to be patient and remain calm. Reunification is methodical and, at times, a slow process but it is the best way for schools enduring an emergency situation to account for the whereabouts of all students and it allows for the safe return of those students to a recognized parent, guardian or custodial adult. Parents are asked to park where indicated and not abandon their vehicles. 

Staff will be expected to remain calm and continue their “customer service” attitude. They will be expected to account for students in their care and to assist them in remaining calm and listening to direction. Members of the Reunification Team will report to their assigned area. 

Parents, guardians or custodial adults are asked to go to the Check-in Area and form lines based on the first letter of the child’s last name. Once determined to be a “confirmed” adult (the name is on the Emergency Contact list), he or she will be given a nametag with the child’s first and last name. He or she will be asked to visibly display the nametag then be directed or escorted to the Reunion Area.

A runner will also take a nametag with the child’s first and last name to the Student Assembly Area.  Once the student has been located, the runner will ask the student to visibly display the nametag. A runner will escort the student to the Reunion Area. 

Reunion Area staff will then match the student and the adult by their nametags. The “confirmed” adult will be asked to write their relationship to the student, the location he or she intends to take the student to and to sign his or her name on the school roster spread sheet.

If a student drove to school, there may be circumstances where he or she is not allowed to remove the vehicle from the parking lot and will need to go through the Standard Reunification process. This information may be conveyed to parents via the District’s mass notification system or via text or phone call. 

In the case that a student is unaccounted for or missing, the “confirmed” adult will be asked to speak with a reunification counselor and/or administrator. 

For more information, please review Student Release Procedures: A Guide for Parents/Guardians/Custodial Adults.