Real Talk on School Safety
School safety has always been a topic of discussion—and action—in the Canyons School District. From monthly emergency-preparedness drills to our regular water-quality testing program to the installation of carbon-monoxide detectors in all schools, the Board of Education and Administration have engaged in conversations about how to make our schools safer for students, teachers, volunteers and parents since the District’s inception. But we don’t want the discussion to stop at the schoolhouse doors. We invite you to join us in some real talk about the ways both big and small we’re creating welcoming learning environments and responding to current building-security concerns. A good starting point for those conversations is to understand how much thought and energy we devote every day to issues related to the safety and wellness of students and teachers. Some measures are obvious, such as, security cameras, emergency drills that schools practice throughout the year and vestibules that require visitors to check-in at the Main Office before entering schools. But most of what we do is invisible. From the food-handling guidelines we follow when serving lunch, to the consistent rules and expectations we enforce to keep our classrooms free from bullying, harassment and discrimination, Canyons District is building safe schools from the inside out.
Safety Measures in Canyons District Schools
• Doors remain locked during the school day, and visitors, including parents and classroom volunteers, must be buzzed-into the Main Office to sign in before entering the school.
• All of our schools practice lockdown and shelter-in-place drills throughout the year, in addition to preparing for a host of other threats, from fires and earthquakes to hazardous materials. Elementary students participate in these drills at least once a month. Secondary schools hold quarterly drills.
• In coordination with local law enforcement agencies, Canyons District is always improving upon its crisis response plan. The plan includes an active shooter/intruder training module for school staff along with detailed protocols for communicating with parents and community leaders in the event of an emergency.
• There is an armed police officer assigned to every school. These School Resource Officers are sworn law enforcement personnel whose salaries are co-funded by the District. They serve and protect our schools while also building trusting relationships with students so they can feel comfortable reporting suspicious activity.
• One of the most powerful ways to combat violence is to leverage the eyes and ears of everyone in the community to report it in advance—and our schools have a high-tech tool at their disposal to facilitate that. Canyons District was the first in Utah to adopt the SafeUT mobile app, which allows students and parents to post anonymous tips about unsafe activities or situations. The app, which also is a tool for students to confidentially seek help for emotional crises, suicidal threats or addiction problems, is monitored 24 hours a day and seven days a week by school administrators and counselors at the University of Utah. Every threat or referral is immediately acted upon.
• Following a successful pilot-test of the DIR-S app at Canyon View Elementary, CSD is now implementing the communications tool districtwide. With a push of a button, the DIR-S app—pronounced “duress”—allows teachers and staff members to give an immediate update on their status through a mobile device or computer, providing everyone, including administrators and law enforcement officers, with the real-time information needed to ascertain the source and location of a threat. It speeds communication and allows everyone to be on the same page and working in lockstep to safeguard the school.
• CSD is focused on the culture of schools, as well. Support personnel — school psychologists, social workers and counselors — are assigned to every school to support faculty and staff in reinforcing positive behavior.
• Proceeds from two voter-approved, general obligation bonds have allowed us to rebuild schools with safety in mind. We build schools with seismic controls, state-of-the-art surveillance systems and automatic locks that require employees to have an ID badge to gain entry. We strive to locate schools out of visibility of main roads and landscapes so that playgrounds are shielded and people can’t easily see inside the school, while employees working inside have a clear line of sight down the halls, and to the parking lot and front entrance. We also strategically locate entryways and exits. Well-lit, open designs foster greater transparency to reduce bullying and harassment. Collaborative spaces support team-learning, and greater comaraderie and school spirit.
• School buildings are equipped with state-of-the-art communications equipment, first aid and earthquake kits, automatic defibrillators, and other tools.
• The Board of Education and Administration routinely examine the safety of walking and biking routes to schools.
• Healthy schools are safe schools. Canyons District schools are regularly inspected by city, local fire and police authorities. Our District was the first in Utah to begin routinely testing the water quality at its campuses. CSD also is the only district in Utah that regularly tests schools for radon with all buildings tested at least every two years.
Join the Conversation
Familiarize yourselves with these Safe Schools Week tips and share them on social media under the hashtags #ThinkSafe #WeAreCanyons #Welcoming #Secure #Prepared
Safety Tip No. 1
If you see or hear something that makes you feel unsafe, say something using the confidential safety tipline, SafeUT.
One of the most powerful ways to combat violence is to leverage the eyes and ears of everyone in the community to report it in advance—and our schools have a high-tech tool at their disposal to facilitate that. Canyons District was the first in Utah to adopt the SafeUT mobile app and tipline, which allows anyone to anonymously report acts of bullying and threatened violence, or to seek help for emotional crises, suicidal threats and addiction problems. The service is monitored 24 hours a day and seven days a week by school administrators and counselors at the University of Utah’s Neuropsychiatric Institute and can be downloaded here.
Safety Tip No. 2
Check your communications settings in CSD’s Skyward system to ensure that we have your most up-to-date contact information.
We get it. When parents hear about an emergency near or at their child’s school, they want information as soon as possible. It’s a natural and expected reaction. In Canyons District, we’ve established communication protocols so that parents and guardians can receive emergency notification in a matter of minutes. When an incident occurs, parents are immediately notified via telephone and email. These notifications go to the phone numbers and email addresses that parents supply during CSD’s annual online registration process. Parents can update their contact information at skyward.canyonsdistrict.org.
Safety Tip No. 3
Everyone has a role to play in an emergency; familiarize yourself with Canyons District’s safety measures and emergency drills.
All Canyons schools practice lockdown and shelter-in-place drills throughout the year, in addition to preparing for a host of other threats, from fires and earthquakes to hazardous materials. Follow this link for brief explanations of what teachers and students are trained to do during these exercises.
Safety Tip No. 4
Take advantage of the counseling resources and behavioral supports available for students and families.
School psychologists, social workers and counselors are assigned to every school to support students and families. Canyons District’s Department of Responsive Services also maintains an online library of tips and tools for parents and educators about a range of topics from suicide and drug and alcohol prevention to tips on talking to kids about traumatic events (see links below).
Crisis Prevention and Intervention
Bullying Prevention Tips
Drug and Alcohol Prevention Resources
Preventing Gang Involvement
Safety Tip No. 5
Be on the lookout for young children walking to schools and bus stops, be mindful that buses make frequent stops, and encourage students to adhere to CSD’s Bus Code of Conduct.
National School Bus Safety Week, Oct. 22-26 is the perfect time for parents to review family emergency plans and talk to their children about the rules of the road—or tips for staying safe while on their way to and from school each day. Here are a few helpful safety routines to always keep in mind. The CDC’s Safe Youth, Safe Schools website contains information about safety issues in getting to and from school, and data on sports and playground injuries, youth violence, bullying, and more. Or, visit our Safety Tips for Parents guide.
Safety Tip No. 6
Take time to discuss your family’s safety plan in the event of a catastrophic event, such as an earthquake.
Canyons District is a member of the S.A.F.E. Neighborhoods Program. In partnership with the American Red Cross, local governments, and school districts, SAFE – an acronym for Schools Aid Families in Emergencies — trains community volunteers to mobilize as a neighborhood and operate their own Incident Command centers until outside help arrives. The idea behind it is to build the capacity of neighbors to help neighbors in the 96 hours immediately following a catastrophic event – the amount of time that it can take for first responders to reach those in need. In the event of a major emergency, elementary schools become hubs for communities to gather and organize. All of our elementary schools store a large black tote containing maps and radio frequencies — everything that CERT teams, ham radio operators and other do-gooders need to set up a communications hub, begin search-and-rescue operations and reunify families.