A safety-minded school culture is the foundation for ensuring the well-being, safety, and security of students, staff and the community. This approach to school safety means that we must double down on the foundational practices we know keep our schools safe, like trusting relationships between adults and students, mental health supports, strong community partnerships, professional development, safety-awareness of staff and students, and engaging curriculum. It also means that we all must be diligent in our safety practices, such as wearing staff badges and visitor stickers, escorting visitors without identification to the office, checking that doors remain secure, actively partaking in drills, speaking up when something doesn’t feel safe, and so much more. A safety-minded school culture means that everyone is empowered to actively contribute to the safety and protection of our school communities.
In St. Louis Park Public Schools, we follow a Unified Command Structure in cooperation with local law enforcement. The Unified Command establishes a common set of incident practices that schools and local partners follow. We continually review and strengthen our safety practices in alignment with best practices outlined by the National Incident Management System (NIMS), which guides all levels of government to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to and recover from safety incidents.
We understand the prevailing atmosphere of fear and worry concerning safety incidents, in particular school shootings, that has enveloped our nation, and we acknowledge the distress it can cause. Your worries are valid, and we share your commitment to ensuring a safe and secure learning environment for all. Students and staff safety remains our highest priority.
St. Louis Park Public Schools has many layers of safety in place, but not everyone is aware of all the moving parts. The physical security of buildings is just one layer of safety, and we need many layers of safety working in tandem to optimize our safety efforts. We invite you to learn more about our District and site safety practices.
What’s new with safety in St. Louis Park Public Schools?
Safety & Security Items in the Bond Issue: Nearly 20% of the August 9, 2023 bond issue will fund items related to safety and security. Totally $23.5 million, these items include security cameras, door card readers, improved emergency frequency access (800 MHz), exterior door security, secure data center including back-up power supply, technology infrastructure and redundant electronics, severe weather shelter at the High School stadium, and emergency storm shelter at the High School.
School Drills: Schools participate in a plethora of drills to prepare for severe weather, fire evacuations, and lockdowns. We recognize that practicing for emergencies can cause unintentional stress, fear, and worry for students. In the coming school year, we will review our approach to drills and find ways to minimize the negative impact of drills on student mental health, while also ensuring that students know what to do in an emergency.
Secure main offices: All buildings were recently updated to have secure front offices. This ensures that visitors must enter a building from a single entrance.
Text Messaging: In addition to phone and email, SLP will now send text messages to staff and families for weather closures and emergency situations that require evacuation or reunification. Text Y to 67587 to receive text messages in English, Spanish, or Somali.
Emergency Preparedness Committee: New during the 2022-2023 school year, we launched the emergency preparedness committee. The committee’s purpose is to continuously improve the district’s emergency response plan in order to ensure robust and racially conscious execution of the plan. The committee includes District and school staff members as well as local law enforcement.
Partner Drills: City emergency responders conduct drills and training at SLP schools to become more familiar with our schools and layout in the case of an emergency.
St. Louis Park Public Schools is committed to maintaining a safe and secure learning environment for all students and staff. By prioritizing a safety-minded school culture, implementing multiple layers of safety, and continuously reviewing and enhancing safety practices, the district ensures that everyone can thrive in an atmosphere that promotes learning and well-being.