School Safety/Crisis Plan
WDMCS Safety & Emergency Management Plan: Prepare, Respond, Recover
The safety and well-being of your children are our priority at the West Des Moines Community Schools. We are committed to supporting safe and welcoming learning environments where your child can connect, explore, and learn.
The district has a comprehensive emergency management plan focused on planning, preparedness, response, and recovery.
For several important reasons, many specific details about response plans are not shared publicly. However, we feel it is important for families to have an overview of our plan and how they can help during emergencies.
Our safety, emergency, and crisis committee developed the district’s emergency management plan in partnership with the West Des Moines Police Department, West Des Moines Fire Department, West Des Moines Emergency Management Services, Westcom Emergency Communications, and several local community partners. In addition, the district consulted with the state law enforcement, Polk County Emergency Management, state and federal Homeland Security and Emergency Management, representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Iowa Department of Education.
These partnerships continue on a regular basis through the Crisis Management Leadership Summit, which the West Des Moines Police Department and West Des Moines Community Schools Superintendent Lisa Remy, Ed.D., established for schools and communities from the metro area.
Each school in our district has a safety, emergency, and crisis team that meets regularly to review plans, train staff, and coordinate emergency drills.
In addition to planning, we conduct emergency drills throughout the school year so that students and staff are aware of emergency protocols and procedures. Each school in our district performs tornado, lockdown, and fire drills.
Our district has also conducted large-scale drills and tabletop exercises in partnership with police, fire, and emergency response services to test and improve our plans.
The West Des Moines Community Schools has organized, systematic procedures for responding to a wide variety of emergencies, from severe weather to threats.
The district and each school have crisis response teams that coordinate the response process in each building. These teams work with local emergency management and other community services based on the emergency.
We will use our emergency notification system to alert families of emergency situations as soon as accurate information is available. To receive a notification call, make sure you have an Infinite Campus account and provide up-to-date contact information. If you do not have an account, please call your school office. Information may also be provided through email, text message, local media outlets, social media, the district’s website, and the district’s hotline. We also provide ongoing communication throughout an emergency as needed.
A few quick tips for families about what they can do during an emergency or crisis are available below.
We may ask families to pick up their children in a formal, controlled release—or a reunification process. This may occur at your child’s school building or another building in the community, depending on the emergency situation. This provides a more predictable and less chaotic process for all involved. The district or school will communicate information, instructions, and the reunification location at the time of the emergency through our notification system. Learn more about the reunification process below.
Recovering from an emergency or crisis is as critical as planning, preparing, and responding. We want to assist students, staff, and their families in the healing process and to restore the educational operations in schools.
The type and breadth of recovery activities needed will vary based on the size and scope of the incident. This may range from repairing a building to providing counselors for students and staff.
It also involves reviewing and evaluating the lessons learned to make improvements.
What Families Should Do During an Emergency
During an emergency, it is a natural instinct for families to want to rush to their child.
We, at the West Des Moines Community Schools, want to reassure you that we share the same instinct—to protect and safeguard your children. Our organized, systematic procedures and plans guide our response to a wide range of crisis situations.
Here are a few ways you can help us effectively respond to a crisis:
- Remain calm, follow procedures, and cooperate with school and public safety officials.
- Please do not go to the school. Traffic may block emergency responders from getting to the scene or transporting injured students or staff to emergency medical facilities.
- Please do not call the school. It is essential to keep phone lines open so school officials can make outgoing emergency calls.
- Remain close to the phone or computer. We will send accurate information and instructions to your contact information in Infinite Campus.
- Tune in to local television or radio stations.
- Check the district website for updates, particularly for school closings.
- Check district social media sites for possible updates. These include Facebook and Twitter (@WDMCS).
- Understand that the district may require families to pick up their children at a reunification site other than their school. In this case, please bring your photo ID. The district will communicate the location of the reunification site through the channel’s provided above.
The reunification process is a formalized, controlled release of students to their custodial parents or guardians. This provides a predictable and organized method of reunifying children with their families after an emergency.
A controlled release may not be a typical end-of-school-day event, and it may occur at a different location than your child’s school due to the circumstances of the emergency situation.
If the reunification is at a different building, we will communicate the alternate location and instructions at the time of the emergency. Learn how we communicate during an emergency.
The following will help familiarize you with the reunification process in advance of an emergency.
You will need to:
- Bring a photo ID. This will streamline things during reunification.
- Be patient. Reunification is a process that protects the safety of the student and provides for an accountable change of custody from the school to a recognized custodial parent or guardian.
- Go to the Reunification “Check-In” area and form lines based on the first letter of the student’s last name.
- Fill out a reunification card. In the case of multiple students being reunified, a separate card for each student needs to be completed. This card and your identification will be used to confirm custody and help ensure proper and document reunification with your child.
In some cases, parents may be advised that a law enforcement investigation is underway and that interviews are necessary. In some cases, parents may be pulled aside for emergency or medical information.
When a parent can’t immediately go to the reunification site, students will only be released to individuals previously identified as a student’s emergency contact. Otherwise, the school staff will remain with students until they can be picked up.
Raptor Visitor Check-In System
Student safety is WDMCS’s highest priority. Raptor is a visitor registration system that will help track who is in every school building, which is part of keeping students and staff safe. The system reads a visitor’s driver’s license or other approved identification and compares information to a sex offender database. The system alerts building administrators if a match is found and prints a visitor’s sticker if no match is found. The sticker will identify the person as an approved visitor and include the date, time, and a picture of the visitor.
How it Works
- Visitors will check in at the main office upon arriving and present a valid state-issued ID.
- The office staff will scan the ID through the Raptor system, which only pulls the visitor’s name, date of birth, and photo for comparison with a national database of registered sex offenders. No other personal identifying information is saved.
- If no match is found, the system will print a visitor’s sticker.
- The self-expiring sticker will identify the person as an approved visitor and include the date and time and a picture of the visitor.
- The visitor must wear the sticker during their visit and it must be visible.
- Visitors will need to check out at the main office prior to leaving.
Do I need my ID if I’m just dropping off or picking up an item at the office?
A visitor’s sticker will not be necessary for those who visit our schools simply to drop off/pick up an item in the school office.
Will Raptor Be Used for School-Sponsored Events in the Evening or on Weekends?
No. Raptor will only be used during school hours (and those times will vary based on each school’s start/end time).
How does the system work?
Driver’s license information is compared to a database that consists of registered sex offenders from all 50 states. If a match is found, district administrators and law enforcement personnel can take appropriate steps to keep the school/site safe.
What other information is the school taking from driver’s license?
The electronic visitor check-in system only scans the visitor’s name, date of birth, and photo for comparison with a national database of registered sex offenders. Additional visitor data will not be gathered and no data will be shared with any outside company or organization.
What if a visitor does not have a state-issued ID?
Passports, military licenses, Mexico Consular ID cards, and Permanent Resident cards are accepted.
What if a visitor has no identification?
If a visitor does not have identification, the information can be entered manually into the system to be checked and a badge can be printed. The visitor information would remain in the system for the future.
What if a visitor is known by staff because he or she regularly volunteers?
Every visitor will need to print a badge to wear each time he or she is in the building. This helps us track who is in any of our buildings at any given time as a safety precaution. In addition, it helps staff confirm an individual has the authority to have access to a student.