Monday, October 17, 2022
Woodland Public Schools collaborates with security experts to ensure students and staff a safe and healthy learning environment
Woodland Public Schools make student and staff safety the top priority by combining state-of-the-art hardware systems, the regular practice of security protocols, and close partnerships with law enforcement to create an always-improving approach to ensuring safe and healthy school environments for the Woodland community.
To provide continuous improvement for school security, Woodland Public Schools has enlisted Compass Consulting Group, a Longview-based company with national reach that provides specialized support, to ensure schools are safer and more secure by performing a district-wide safety audit of systems and practices. Compass’ scope of work includes the evaluation of facilities; review and improvement of response plans; and advising on and delivery of training sessions. The district expects to have the full review completed with available findings in the coming months.
The District recently added additional protective fencing to further deter potential unauthorized intruders
Beginning in 2015, Woodland Public Schools has made significant investments in student safety, including restricting daytime school building access. This investment in safety continues with recently made plans to install additional protective fencing to further deter unauthorized intruders from gaining access.
Woodland Schools does not disclose many of the preventative and protective measures taken to ensure school safety in order to prevent providing too much information to those who may intend harm. This balance of communication with families and communities regarding prevention and response presents one of the biggest challenges facing school districts throughout the country. Districts try to share many elements of safety plans with their communities, however law enforcement and security agencies also advise schools to keep the majority of the details classified. “Sharing all the steps schools take to keep students safe could potentially allow key information to fall into the wrong hands,” explained Woodland Public Schools Superintendent Michael Green. “We try to present a clear picture of how we keep our schools safe while maintaining the necessary confidentiality to prevent wrongdoers from learning how to circumvent any of our security protocols.”
At Woodland Public Schools, schools use a combination of security systems, training, and practice to ensure students and staff have access to a safe and healthy learning environment:
Exterior school entrances remain locked throughout every school day
All non-enclosed exterior entrances for district buildings remain locked during the school day except one: the singular entrance leading to the main office. Some buildings, such as TEAM Alternative High School, Lewis River Academy, and Yale School, offer no immediate access for visitors, requiring all visitors to first ring a doorbell which allows school staff to verify the visitor’s identity via security camera prior to allowing entry.
Yale School, TEAM High, and Lewis River Academy don't allow access without verifying visitors' identity before entry
This protocol serves to prevent anyone from entering a school building without first checking in at the main office. “All visitors and late students must enter through the main office so school personnel knows exactly who is on campus at all times,” said Green.
To provide for immediate evacuation in the event of a fire or similar scenario, students and staff may exit school buildings from any door, only entry is prevented.
Security cameras provide a full view of school grounds and are shared with local law enforcement
More than 100 security cameras monitor Woodland High School's interior and exterior
All school exteriors are monitored by security cameras so school staff know well in advance before any visitor is about to enter the building. At Woodland High School alone, there are more than 100 security cameras monitoring activity both inside and outside the school to help ensure safety.
Woodland Police have remote access to every school’s camera system so they can monitor the grounds remotely. Close collaboration with law enforcement dramatically reduces response time in the event of the emergency and provides first responders with valuable insights into any emergency taking place throughout the district.
Staff can lock down main offices to prevent access to schools
Schools can compartmentalize the main office in the event of an intruder or other emergency to prevent unauthorized access.
Inside Woodland’s schools, every classroom door can be locked by a teacher, allowing teachers to control who has access to their classroom. Additionally, each classroom is equipped with window coverings to prevent anyone in hallways from seeing inside classrooms.
Regular safety drills and rigorous training ensure safety readiness
Even the best security protocols are useless if staff and students don’t know what to do in the event of an emergency. This is why every school in Woodland holds frequent safety drills, so everyone knows exactly what to do in the event of an emergency.
In addition to fire drills, schools practice for potential disasters including flood, earthquake, volcanic eruption, and more. Schools conduct these drills multiple times every school year, so students and staff know exactly what to do when it happens without having to refer to manuals or guides.
Safety partnerships enhance school safety district-wide
In order to keep school safety plans as effective as possible, Woodland Public Schools work closely with local and regional emergency personnel including law enforcement, first responders, and the fire service. These agencies provide suggestions for improvement and ways to reinforce the safety plans, so schools always practice the newest security strategies.
Woodland Public Schools’ upcoming safety audit will provide even more insights
Recently, the district has begun consulting with a noted security agency which specializes in school safety. The agency will conduct a full security audit, reviewing the facilities, protocols, and practices throughout the district to offer ways to improve safety further. “We do not take school safety lightly – it is a top priority,” said Green. “We continually evaluate our practices and improve them, so our schools remain happy and safe places of learning for students and staff alike.”
Learn more about how Woodland Public Schools educates our students and serves the community, by visiting our dedicated news webpage at www.woodlandschools.org/news/wsd