Crisis Response Guide for Parents
The safety of our students and staff is Peoria Unified's top priority. There are many resources in place in a school emergency, which may include responders such as police, fire and medical, teachers and staff. All seven Peoria Unified high schools have a School Resource Officer on campus to help with safety, guidance, teaching and to serve as a role model. The School Resource Officers work closely with the feeder elementary schools in their immediate areas.
While parents are not on site during a school emergency or crisis, here is information to help you understand the safety procedures used at our schools:
Lockdown procedures are an important strategy to protect the safety of students and staff in the event of an emergency. There are typically two types of lockdown procedures, depending on the situation.
- Modified lockdowns are when all exterior doors and access points are locked and outdoor activities have been discontinued temporarily. Students and staff are able to move around on the interior of the campus and between classrooms that are enclosed within a building. Efforts are made to maintain a regular schedule and routine during a modified lockdown.
- High-level lockdowns require all doors both on the interior and exterior of the building to be locked for students and staff to remain in their current location. There is no movement in the halls or between rooms during a high-level lockdown except for the school crisis team, police and/or fire.
Lockdown drills are conducted on all of our campuses throughout the school year and tabletop exercises are conducted with local law enforcement agencies to review and prepare in the event of a real emergency.
Responding to a lockdown
Parents are important partners in Peoria Unified's efforts to keep students safe during a lockdown. Receiving the news that your child's school has been put into a lockdown can be a scary or stressful experience for any parent. Here are things that you can do to help keep your child safe during a lockdown:
- Remain calm and wait for information from the school or the district. The school will text, email and/or call you as soon as we have information to share. Please note that ensuring the safety of our students and staff is the top priority, above anything else. To this end, it may take some time before information is released to parents while the crisis team and administration takes care of students and staff.
- During a lockdown, parents are unable to enter the campus. Emergency responders and school district employees will focus on the needs of students and staff. Unexpected arrivals by parents can make this very difficult.
- Avoid calling the school or district office for more information. The school or district will share information and updates with parents as soon as possible. Calling with questions can often make this take longer. The school may request that your child reach out to you to give you an update as well.
- Trust Peoria Unified to keep your child safe, just like you do on a regular school day. Picking up your child during a crisis can send a message to your child that school is not a safe place, which interferes with learning on other, regular days.
- Remember that our teachers and staff members are well-trained to respond to emergencies in a way that protects the well-being of every student in their care.
Talking to your child
When you talk to your child following an emergency, your questions, comments and tone will make a big difference. Consider the following steps to help your child process their thoughts and emotions:
- Ask your child what they know about the emergency. You may find that they know very little and are not trying to find out more. That's okay!
- Ask what your child's teacher did to keep everyone safe. Maybe it was locking doors, turning off lights, being quiet. Most importantly, it focuses the conversation on the actions that adults took to keep them safe.
- Talk about the "helpers" who kept everyone safe. These may be the teachers and staff, emergency responders or others. Talk about how brave these people are in their work to keep others safe.
- Ask how your child felt during the emergency and acknowledge that it is okay to feel that way (scared, nervous, anxious, etc.) Ask how he or she is feeling now and acknowledge that it is okay for them to feel this way.
- Watch for any lingering signs of stress over the following days and weeks. Anxiety about school, lack of appetite, difficulty sleeping, or any behavior that is out of the ordinary - these may mean that your child still needs help healing from the emergency situation. We can help. Contact your child's school office to learn what resources or services are available.