Safety has always been and will continue to be one of Penn Christian Academy’s top priorities for our students. It is one of our five ROARS principles, and this applies to day-to-day classroom behaviors and procedures as much as it does the big picture operations of the school. When students step off the bus and into our school, the responsibility of your child’s safety is not taken lightly by teachers, staff members, and administration. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some of PCA’s safety practices that impact how we operate daily.
The current safety plan in place began with two years of research and collaboration with police, fire and health officials. They came to our building and met with administration as a plan for emergencies and overall safety standards was developed. We now have a full Crisis Management Plan for fire, tornado, and lockdown situations. All classrooms and offices are equipped with a binder detailing the procedures for each situation, along with a Quick Guide located on the doors of the classrooms.
In order for students to fully understand and execute the procedures in the Crisis Management Plan, drills are practiced throughout the year – three each of fire, tornado, and lockdown. Teachers and students are notified about two of these drills, so procedures can be discussed in class. There is one unnotified drill throughout the year to ensure the element of surprise does not cause neglect while following procedure. Our drill times average 50% lower than the state standards for a facility of our size.
Several years ago, Penn Christian Academy began training faculty in a process called A.L.I.C.E. (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate) for lockdown and evacuation procedures. We were one of the first schools in our area to begin this program, and we continue to train both faculty and students each year. We do not publicize details of our lockdown procedures for safety reasons. Local police departments have been consulted and continue to educate administration on updates and best practices regarding school safety and lockdown procedures.
Our school is locked, both inside and out, all day long. The only entrance for outside visitors, including parents, is through the front office. All visitors are checked into the office to regulate who is in the building and why they are visiting. All classrooms with students inside are locked throughout the day to ensure access is only granted to those with proper reason to be in the building.
Overall, we strive to keep our safety management as thorough as possible, while keeping it simple enough for students to understand and perform. The way to ensure students remain safest is through preparation before the event occurs. Ultimately, we know our safety rests in the hands of our Heavenly Father. He is always watching over His children, and we claim the promise that we find in Psalm 91.
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”