Safety has always been a major concern for parents, faculty, students and staff throughout the years. It’s a concern that takes priority right along with testing scores and classroom sizes. At Harmony Public Schools, a commitment to safety ensures everyone who steps foot on one of the 60+ campuses is kept safe during their visit.
Safety drills were created to prepare students and staff for emergency situations to create muscle memory, and to help school administrators evaluate and address flaws and successes in their emergency procedures.
The State of Texas requires all open enrollment charter schools to perform the following drills, which Harmony has successfully implemented:
Secure Drill: 1 per school year
Schools use the Secure Drill procedure anytime there is a threat outside of the school building/perimeter. An example would be police responding to a bank robbery close to the campus. To drill this, campuses bring all students and staff inside the building and do not let anyone in or out. All activities inside the building can continue as normal.
Lockdown Drill: 2 per school year (one per semester).
A lockdown is used anytime there is a threat inside the school building and students and staff do not have time to evacuate. During a lockdown, teachers will make sure the classroom door is locked and barricaded. In the case of an actual event – alerts and information will be given to allow students and staff the information they need to determine if they should lockdown or if there’s time to evacuate.
Evacuation other than Fire Drill: 1 per school year
Evacuation is utilized when the campus is no longer safe. Staff and students evacuate the building in accordance with the predetermined evacuation routes. Some examples of when a campus would use this are: gas leak, bomb threat, and possibly utility outage.
Shelter-in-Place for Hazmat Drill: 1 per school year
Shelter-in-Place for Hazmat occurs when there is a hazardous material spill outside of the campus. Students come into the building and the building is sealed (ac turned off, windows and doors sealed).
Shelter for Severe Weather Drill: 1 per school year
Shelter for Severe Weather occurs when severe weather such as a tornado or severe storm are occurring around the campus. Students will move to safer areas in the building away from windows.
Fire Evacuation Drill:
School districts and open-enrollment charter schools should consult with their local fire marshal and comply with their local fire marshal’s requirements and recommendations. If a district does not have a local fire marshal, it shall conduct four per school year (two per semester).
Harmony does not drill for this procedure but uses it quite often on campus. During a hold, teachers are asked to keep all students contained in the classroom. Holds are used for several reasons, including medical emergencies occurring on campus, drug dogs checking hallways, or a student in the process of de-escalation. While a classroom is in a Hold - teachers are able to continue teaching as normal.
All campuses have a trained safety committee that conducts these drills through a predetermined schedule. These committees regularly review how well the drills are operating and to determine if any changes need to be made. As a commitment to safety, Harmony continues to implement safety standards across all campuses while reassuring parents that their children can focus on Harmony’s core missions. STEM and character education for all.