We strive to create learning spaces where all scholars can thrive.
We want our schools to be safe and welcoming environments that nurture academic excellence as well as the social-emotional and physical well-being of all students, staff, and families. We believe the safest schools are those that foster a climate of support and respect and instill a sense of community. School security, incident response, and threat assessments are vital components as well.
How MMSD Communicates Safety Concerns or Incidents with Families
In an emergency, schools aim to provide honest, consistent, timely, clear, and efficient communication with families. Examples of emergency communication includes weather-related closures, evacuations, community incidents affecting schools, transportation-related emergencies, or police/ambulance response to school.
Depending on the nature of and urgency of the incident, you may receive a text, email, and/or robocall. Schools may also post incident updates on their website, and direct you to a particular webpage to stay up to date as a situation unfolds. Additionally, you may receive an alert text to notify you quickly of a situation, later followed up by an email once MMSD has been able to verify key details. Please note, privacy laws limit certain types of information schools can release to families and the public.
Update Your Contact Information
In an emergency or safety situation, families' contact information is pulled from Infinite Campus. On a regular basis, log in to Infinite Campus, and:
- Ensure your email and phone number(s) are current.
- Keep your student's emergency contact(s) up-to-date in case we are unable to reach you.
- Add your high school student’s cell phone number to their Infinite Campus record. In an emergency, this allows us to text them important information.
If you have questions about how to update your information, or you need help, email our Enrollment Office or call 608-663-4957.
Prioritizing Student and Staff Safety
When thinking about how quickly schools communicate to families when an emergency situation occurs, MMSD staff, in the very early stages of an incident, are prioritizing the safety and security of students and staff while managing emergency response. If you are hearing about an incident, we ask that you don’t immediately call or come to the school. We understand the desire to talk to someone at school as a reassurance, but when a school is actively dealing with an emergency, calling or coming to the school can tie up phone lines and take away resources needed to respond to the situation. In an emergency, students often text their families to report that something is happening at school.
We understand information travels fast, and that you may hear about something on social media before you hear about it from school. We discourage circulating unsubstantiated information on social media, because it can impede our efforts to share accurate information. It can also cause unnecessary panic.
Additionally, keep in mind that students may not have accurate information of a situation. We have seen examples of students reporting their school is on a "Lockdown," (Standard Response Protocol when there is a threat inside the school), when in fact the school implemented a "Hold." In a Hold, hallways are kept clear and students remain in classrooms learning; an example of a Hold would be in order for staff or emergency personnel to respond to an individual's medical needs.
News media learn of incidents by listening to police/EMS/fire radio scanners. Often, news media will report inaccurate or incomplete information in the early stages of a safety situation, and sometimes report on an incident before you may be informed by your school. A primary objective for reporters is to be first to report on a story, without needing to follow the same considerations a school needs to take. Reporters can easily post a story within minutes, and then later, without repercussion, update their inaccuracies or make corrections as the school district releases more accurate and complete information. The release of information too quickly can cause additional harm to those involved and/or create unintended consequences to providing an appropriate emergency response.
Schools safe begins with proactively eliminating or reducing the likelihood of unsafe behaviors or events from taking place - whether at school, at home, or in the community.
Preparedness and Protection
Preparedness in school safety refers to how staff plan, organize, equip, train, and exercise our procedures. Protection involves securing our schools against threats to safety.
Response and Recovery
After an incident has taken place, our response and recovery efforts aim to stabilize the situation, and establish a safe environment as we begin to restore and repair.
Secure firearm storage is an essential part of home safety. With more guns in more homes due to an unprecedented surge in gun sales over the past two years, it’s more important than ever for parents and caregivers to know how secure storage protects children.
October 16-22 marks America’s Safe Schools Week, which draws attention to the continuing problem of school violence and educates everyone about how schools can be made safer and more secure. Follow SchoolSafety.gov’s Twitter, @SchoolSafetyGov, for tips next week on a range of school safety topics to help support K-12 schools in creating and sustaining safe and supportive learning environments.
Everyone in the school community can work together to create an environment where bullying is not acceptable. This National Bullying Prevention Month, parents, school staff, and other adults in the school community can help prevent bullying by talking about it, building a safe school environment, and creating a community-wide bullying prevention strategy. Visit StopBullying.gov for resources to prevent and address bullying in your school community.
Mental Health Month raises awareness of trauma and the impact it can have on the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of children, families, and communities. Mental Health Month was established in 1949 to increase awareness of the importance of mental health and wellness in Americans' lives, and to celebrate recovery from mental illness. We also give thanks to the dedicated mental health providers whose service and support improve the lives of so many Americans
Through the Safe Routes to School program, The City of Madison, Healthy Kids Collaborative of Dane County, and the Wisconsin Bike Fed are promoting active transportation, important dates, and safety tips for drivers and pedestrians.
We are so thankful for our local crossing guards and their commitment to keeping our students safe on their journey to and from school. We need more of them. Would you – or a grandparent or neighbor – consider stepping up and helping our students cross streets safely next school year? The City of Madison is recruiting candidates.
ReadyWisconsin is reminding residents that now is a good time to get ready for severe weather season. Every family should have an emergency plan in place, and spring is a great time to review it and make any necessary updates. It is also a good time to assemble or restock a home or vehicle emergency kit.
Did you know roughly a third of U.S. households with children also have guns? In fact, an estimated 4.6 million kids live with unlocked, loaded guns. Studies show children are naturally curious, even about a firearm they've been warned not to touch. The reality is having firearms in the home increases the risk of unintentional shootings, suicide, and homicide. The American Academy of Pediatrics Advises the safest home for a child is one without guns.
Meet Bonnie, one of two of the district’s certified WAGS (Wisconsin Academy for Graduate Service) dogs, trained in critical response. “Bonnie is trained to provide lots of love and unconditional non-judgment and positive regard,” MMSD Social Worker and Office of School Safety Director Gina Aguglia said. “It’s a great opportunity for kids who may be struggling to get some additional support.”
Talking to kids about their use of social media can be hard and sometimes stressful, but it can help influence their behavior online. Interact! is an online, interactive e-course for families (available in English and Spanish) that aims to help you get these conversations started and make them a bit less painful and more productive. Topics include oversharing, inappropriate sexual conduct, bullying, child enticement, and more.
MMSD's Office of School Safety works to ensure our schools balance the physical safety of our students, staff, and school buildings with the importance of social, emotional, and psychological safety.