INSIGHTS is an ongoing series of blog posts published by members of the PBS faculty, providing a lens into how the PBS faculty thinks about curriculum development, teaching and learning, professional development, and other topics central to executing the school’s mission every day. In this multi-part series of INSIGHTS articles, PBS faculty will share updates on important school-wide initiatives, including the annual Curriculum Deep Dive and Phillips Brooks Summer Institute projects.
The health, safety, and wellbeing of the school community remain a top priority at PBS. As we have shared in the past, our Safety and Security Committee has been working for the past year with Joffe Emergency Services to assess our existing practices and policies and to identify specific actions PBS can take to continue to strengthen both. Upon initial assessment of our campus and safety protocols, Joffe representatives were impressed that PBS was among the top 20% of schools at the point in which they first engage with Joffe’s safety program. This was an important affirmation of where we were a year ago and meant we would be building on a strong foundation going forward.
As we begin a new year, the committee wanted to share with the community some of the accomplishments of the past year and a preview of major undertakings we’re planning over the next 18 months.
In the last 12 months…
Policies and Practices
- Chartered a formal Safety and Security Committee
- Initiated a partnership with Joffe Emergency Services to provide expert security consultation
- Conducted a field scan to assess area peer schools' best safety practices
- Rewrote the school’s Emergency Preparedness Manual to incorporate San Mateo County's “Big Five” safety protocols and to align our practices with Joffe’s recommendations
- Installed a new, electronic sign-in system and guest process in the Welcome Center. The new system issues a date-stamped, personalized guest badge for each visitor and logs guests in a central database.
- Reduced campus entry points by adding a gate between the Early Learning Center and the admin building.
- Migrated to a new emergency notification system that unifies several separate systems previously in use, allows for easy alerts to parents, faculty, staff, and emergency contacts. The system also allows faculty and staff to send GPS location, video, and audio to the response team during an emergency.
- Conducted preliminary research and planning to upgrade our public address system. PBS was able to install a more comprehensive, temporary public address system while we research for the best long-term investment.
- Developed templates for common scenarios to allow for quick responses during an actual emergency
- Ran two full-school emergency communication drills to ensure that parents and emergency contacts receive notifications as intended
- Hired a full-time Welcome Center Coordinator to provide a dedicated presence at the main entrance to the school to prevent gaps in coverage and to increase face-recognition
- Hired a new security firm to provide coverage at major events on campus
- Menlo Park Police Department community liaison officer Mary Ferguson provided faculty and staff with lockdown training during our faculty workdays last August and visited campus to assist regularly during PBS lockdown drills. Officer Victoria Trask has taken on this community liaison role and will continue to assist in PBS lockdown drills.
- Integrated the La Entrada Middle School administration and the Las Lomitas Elementary School District staff into our emergency alert system and added key PBS administrators and staff into the district's emergency system to ensure that each campus is aware of the other's status at all times.
Looking ahead to the next 18 months…
- By the start of school, PBS will have enhanced the school’s camera coverage
- PBS will develop, implement, and train personnel on a new incident command system (ICS) model, which will divide the faculty and staff into preassigned teams in the event of an emergency. Those teams include search and rescue, crisis counseling, reunification, and facilities logistics, among several others. Implementation will take place throughout the fall.
- Joffe Emergency Services will provide a safety and security training for PBS faculty and staff during a fall faculty meeting.
- PBS will practice more complicated emergency drills that will help the school be more prepared in emergency situations:
- The administrative team will engage in a table-top simulated emergency response drill late this fall.
- One drill this spring will involve practicing an off-site reunification pickup.
- PBS will continue to research the best long-term investment for a more extensive outdoor communication system, with a likely implementation during the summer of 2020.
- The Safety and Security team will work on developing a more comprehensive Business Continuity Plan with Joffe.
In addition to these actions, we will continue to assess our practices and procedures and will remain resposive to emerging needs identified by the committee and the community. We look forward to continuing to share updates on our progress with you.
Michael Lavigne Jr., the Director of Marketing and Communications, joined the PBS team in 2016 after serving in a similar role at St. James’ Episcopal School in Los Angeles. He cut his professional teeth at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Conn., his high school alma mater. When not at work, Michael spends his time with a karaoke microphone in one hand and a video game controller in the other.