Safety Frequently Asked Questions
Above all, Stanley’s safety program is grounded in our philosophy and values. We know that more than anything, the investment of time and attention to ensuring Stanley is a healthy, inclusive and caring community is central to a safe campus. We work with the Denver Police Department (DPD) to promote a coordinated approach to school safety, and we train regularly to be ready to enact precautionary measures when necessary. We also access information available from the Colorado School Safety Resource Center on best school-based safety practices. Most importantly, we engage all faculty and staff in safety preparedness, and we provide regular communication and resources to families. Our safety training encompasses the following practices:
- Annually train our school-based Emergency Response Team on emergency procedures.
- Maintain building and campus emergency plans according to the Standard Response Protocol.
- Partner with the Colorado School Safety Resource Center, Denver Police Department and Denver Fire Department in planning and drill efforts.
- Conduct all-school emergency drills annually for fire, lockout/shelter-in-place and lockdown to ensure students and staff are responding in a safe and timely manner.
- Gather the Emergency Response Team monthly throughout the school year and over the summer to review best practices and up-to-date training.
At age-appropriate levels and in homerooms, teachers hold a series of planned discussions with their students covering a number of safety issues, including:
- General safety guidelines and rules
- What to do during shelter, evacuate, lockout and lockdown (before and during regularly scheduled drills)
- What to do if you encounter or see an unidentified person on campus
- What to do if approached by someone you don’t know
- What to do if you find or hear of something unsafe at school
- Internet and cell phone safety issues (starting in third grade)
- Our goal is to be sensitive to the needs of families and to communicate accurate and timely information without interfering with ongoing emergency responses or investigations. We also want to balance the need for communication with the risk of creating additional anxiety or concerns for all concerned.
- In the case of a lockout, protocol is that Stanley’s emergency team or representative decides the level of communication necessary. If the lockout happens near dismissal, arrival or transition time, the school will send a text to families. All lockouts will be followed by an email to share details with the school community.
- For a lockdown, the Stanley emergency team or representative will send or set in motion the text communications and/or stanleybps.org website posts to keep the community well-informed of the emergency.
It is crucial that all adults on campus understand we share responsibility for the security of our campus. The most effective means of enhancing campus security is the understanding, implementation and periodic review of established safety procedures. We do have a campus-wide system of surveillance cameras. We know that surveillance cameras may not prevent crime, but they can aide in identifying perpetrators. We also use an outside security company for nightly mobile patrols of campus. This service is extremely effective at addressing trespassing and checking that all buildings and gates are secured and alarms are armed. We use another outside company to maintain our system of building alarms.
Parents and family members are welcome to visit; we ask you to coordinate appropriate visit times and activities with your teachers. Official business hours are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. The front doors to Hambidge Commons will remain locked during school hours 8:15 a.m.-3 p.m., except during drop-off when families are welcomed by staff on hand to greet parents and students and assist with car doors during morning drop-off.
All visitors – including parents, grandparents, nannies, etc., and even when quickly picking up their child – must sign in at the front desk, take a visitor lanyard to wear at all times, then sign out and return the lanyard when the visit is through. This process helps teachers and staff recognize adults who are authorized to be on our campus.
Parents report all absences and planned departures from school during the day via the attendance email: firstname.lastname@example.org (available on the website and mobile app as well). Parent/guardian communication with the school and the morning attendance taken by our teachers together provides a record of students’ whereabouts when questions come up and for updating teachers and staff throughout the day. We also keep schedules for students at the front desk and online for staff and parent reference.
Except for those attending athletic events in the gym or on the playing field (or on days when we have major celebrations, such as graduations, holiday programs or Grand People day), every visitor spending time on campus signs in at the front desk and takes a visitor lanyard to wear at all times.
The Emergency Response Team (ERT) implements, troubleshoots and rehearses emergency practices, plans drills, reviews emergency management in classrooms on a regular basis and trains and supports faculty and staff. This team is comprised of about 15 faculty and staff across all divisions and administrative departments. We believe that child well-being and campus safety is a collective responsibility that requires ongoing and meaningful collaboration and communication.
Stanley partners with Blackboard, a company widely used by independent schools, to maintain ready contact lists to easily communicate with staff and families via email and one-way texts. In addition, during an emergency – and also for ease of communication – all staff members are part of group chats that can be initiated by anyone experiencing an emergency or needing to convey information quickly among team members. These groups are maintained by our Emergency Response Team.
Currently, we do not require staff to wear lanyards. The data on the safety benefits of lanyards in an emergency does not outweigh our teachers’ desire to be unencumbered. Our objective is to build relationships and community so that all faculty and staff are recognizable and known by colleagues, parents and students.
We believe campus safety is a collective responsibility, and we are dedicated to ensuring all faculty and staff are appropriately trained for emergency situations. We also know that the presence of armed guards can actually increase anxiety and fear among school community members. And, the presence of security guards has been shown to instill a sense of complacency among community members by creating the expectation that safety is someone else’s responsibility. Our Emergency Response Team continually reviews current thinking on best practices for school safety, learning from other schools, and evaluating what best meets our needs. We do enlist third-party, night security patrols year-round and off-duty Denver Police Department officers to monitor the general safety of certain Stanley-run events (like the auction) that serve alcohol.
All points of entry/exit on our 11-acre campus are managed on a daily schedule with specific staff responsibilities assigned for monitoring kids on the playground and at recess, for locking and unlocking gates and doors and for managing the comings and goings of students and families. All of our buildings have security doors and single points of entry as prescribed by fire and safety code. We believe in maintaining unlocked doors internal to our campus for several reasons: It is developmentally appropriate and important to foster independence, personal responsibility, confidence and self-agency, and to allow children to travel within our campus unaccompanied by adults. Our children need to navigate our school campus, their neighborhoods, our city and the world, and we believe Stanley’s campus gives them a safe space to practice these life skills. K-5 children may not travel around campus without a buddy, and all students are supervised during classroom transition times and during recess or other outside times.
Fortressing our campus might reduce petty crime, but it won’t protect us from an internal threat. Only the investment of time and attention to our shared community and healthy school culture can do that. At Stanley we work hard to ensure our risk management work is focused on realistic assessments of actual versus perceived risks and to ensure that the school’s resources are directed towards what the Stanley Board of Trustees deems to be the most impactful strategies for ensuring Stanley is a safe and welcoming community.
- United Educators and National Association of Independent Schools analysis, Advancing Risk Management in Independent Schools, 2017.
- Trendbook Excerpt: Schools are Integrating Student Health and Well-Being into School Life, Debra P. Wilson, NAIS, 2017.
- NAIS Guidelines of Professional Practice for Behavioral Health Professionals Working in Independent Schools, 2018.
- Life in the Media Frenzy: Balancing Crisis Management Perceptions and Realities, Jessie Barrie, Albuquerque Academy, 12/3/2018.
- What Makes a Good School Culture? Leah Shafer, Usable Knowledge, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2018.
- Handbook on Child Safety for Independent School Leaders, Anthly P. Rizzuto and Cynthia Crosson-Tower, NAIS, 2012.
- School shootings are extraordinarily rare. Why is fear of them driving policy? David Ropeik, Washington Post, 3/8/2018.
- List: Colorado school shootings since Columbine: The STEM School shooting is the fourth since April, 1999. https://www.denverpost.com/2019/05/07/colorado-school-shootings-columbine/
- Crisis Communications Guidelines for Independent Schools (requires NAIS login), Jane Hulbert, The Jane Group/NAIS, 2019.
- Mean-world syndrome: https://topdocumentaryfilms.com/mean-world-syndrome/
- School Shooters, What’s their path to violence? https://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=690372199
- Gun control is no longer a third rail in Colorado politics
- https://mcc.gse.harvard.edu/, Making Caring Common, Harvard Graduate School of Education: Raising kids who care about each other and the common good.
- https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/, Responsive Classroom approach is associated with higher academic achievement in math and reading, improved school climate, and higher-quality instruction. It has been described as one of the most “well-designed evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) programs”.
- https://casel.org/, Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.
- http://www.challengesuccess.org/, Challenge Success, Stanford Graduate School of Education: We partner with schools, families, and communities to embrace a broad definition of success and to implement research-based strategies that promote student well-being and engagement with learning.
- School Safety Committee, Colorado State Legislature, 2019 Regular Session. Representative Dafna Mihaelson Janet, Chair; Senator Rhona Fields, Vice Chair.
- Essential School Health Services Guidelines Checklist, Colorado Department of Education, February 2017.
- Role of the School Nurse: Students with Special Needs, Office of Special Education, Colorado Department of Education, June 2016.
- Homeland Security News Wire, Guns: Do armed guards prevent school shootings? Alex Yablon, April, 2019.
- Can security measures really stop school shootings? Researchers argue that an educational approach would work better than “target hardening”. Bryan Warnick, Benjamin A. Johnson, Sam Rocha. The Conversation US, February 15, 2018.
- Military-style guards with guns in schools across the nation wouldn’t protect students. Opinion. USA Today, February 20, 2019.
Talking to your students about safety
The subject of safety and the dangers that seem so prevalent in the world today can be scary or confusing for many of us, students and parents alike. Our teachers, in collaboration with our social-emotional staff, are always ready to support students who may want to talk about these frightening these issues. If you or your children are experiencing heightened concern around issues of school safety, please make use of these helpful resources (below), shared with us through the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS):
- Talking to Children About Tragedies (American Academy of Pediatrics)
- Helping Kids After a Shooting (American School Counselor Association)
- Explaining the News to Our Kids (Common Sense Media)
- Helping Children Cope with Frightening News (Child Mind Institute)
Helping Children Cope with Terrorism: Tips for Families and Educators (National Association of School Psychologists)