Yes. Preparedness for a wide variety of emergencies and adverse events within the school district’s buildings is at the heart of the emergency planning process. It is year-round, and involves dozens of employees to identify threats, plan responses, train building leaders, and hold drills to keep students safe.
The emergency response plans used in the Fargo Public Schools are standardized across the school system, with respect to individual building layouts. The plans utilize school district employees, the District’s school resource officers (SROs), the City of Fargo’s police and fire personnel, and the Cass-Clay Unified School Response network, of which the Fargo Public Schools is a founding member. Each fall, the District is evaluated for improvements to its buildings using CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) standards, which seek to improve the safety of school facilities. The evaluations analyze building floor plans, lighting, security, access, amenities, landscaping, maintenance, and activity scheduling, to name a few.
As a part of its plan, each school has a response team made up of individuals who have different roles in their building. A typical team of 5-7 members would consist of a principal, administrative assistant, building engineer, counselor, and teacher(s). Members of the teams go through training each year to stay current with adjustments to their building’s plan, and to stay current on updates to best practices in emergency response.
Nine drills are required to be held at each building during the course of the school year. These are all done with students – for their own familiarity with these incidents, and so that teachers and staff have sufficient practice in handling the students’ reactions and behavior. Three of the drills are evacuations. Three of them are lockdowns, with at least one being a threat from outside the building. And three are sheltering drills, with at least two of them devoted to tornado events. In drills, the building teams are evaluated based on the response of staff and students to the planned response the team has carried out. These are overseen by District officials and/or members of the Fargo Police and Fire Departments and the Cass County Sheriff’s Office.
All drills are reviewed upon completion, and contribute to the review and modification of plans and procedures as necessary. Additionally, FPS has the following safety precautions in place at its schools:
- Identification system for all employees
- Visitor identification and registration process
- Playground safety procedures at elementary buildings
- Immediate lockdown procedures if an issue arises
SROs, in place at the District’s secondary schools, play a valuable part in the safe school environment beyond their security presence and incident response. Officers spend time throughout the year engaging groups of students, staff and parents as a part of educational programming. They work closely with administrators, counselors and teachers to help minimize disruption to the educational process. SROs also carry out these functions, on a more limited basis, as assigned liaisons to FPS elementary schools.