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School safety a priority for NLPS

Over the last three weeks students throughout Northern Lights Public Schools have been practicing fire drills, relocations, and lockdown procedures. 

“This is a normal part of what we do at the beginning of the school year to ensure everyone is aware of what to do in the event of an emergency,” explained Superintendent Rick Cusson. “We want everyone to feel safe in our schools and an important part of that is knowing that if something were to happen in a school, we have procedures in place that are focused on keeping our students and staff safe.”

While many people may be familiar with a typical school fire drill where students exit the school and then line up in front of the school or in the school yard, some local residents may have seen schools do something a little different this time.

“This year we are requiring all of our schools to do at least one fire drill at the beginning of the year that includes a relocation,” explained Cusson. “So if you’ve seen students exit a school and then all walk to a local church or community facility or another nearby school, that was likely a relocation drill.”

Drills that include relocating students to secondary pre-designated locations are important because in the event of an actual emergency, outside temperatures, weather conditions, or the nature of the emergency, may make it impractical for students and staff to remain on school grounds while the situation is being dealt with.

“This allows us to keep everyone safe and warm until they can return to school, or while we make arrangements for parents to pick them up or for buses to take them home,” said Cusson.

The addition of a required relocation drill is just one recent enhancement the division has made to the safety and security protocols for its schools. In the 2022-2023 school year, the division implemented new security measures to restrict access to its schools during the day, including keeping all outside doors locked once classes have started for the day. All visitors are required to sign in when they enter and sign out when they leave. 

“This is to ensure that all visitors have to enter through the main entrance to the school so that staff are aware of who is in the building and can minimize disruptions to student learning,” said Cusson.

This is something many schools were already doing prior to the division making it a consistent practice.

“In addition, our Facilities team conducted a review of our buildings and over the last few years we have prioritized projects that improve school entrances and enhance safety and security at our sites,” said Cusson. 

As part of its ongoing commitment to student and staff safety, Northern Lights Public Schools is in the process of reviewing its safety protocols and procedures with the assistance of Hour Zero. More information about school safety will be shared with parents and the community throughout the year as we review how everyone can work together to keep our students safe.