GJSD makes safety upgrades throughout District’s four school buildings

For administrators and employees of the Greater Johnstown School District, the safety of the school community, and the staff and students within its buildings and grounds, is the top priority each and every day. The District’s safety protocols are continuously analyzed, assessed, and practiced, so that everyone knows exactly what to expect, and exactly what to do, in the event of an actual emergency.

ParentSquare remains the official method for the District to communicate emergency information to families. It is imperative that your contact information is continually updated so that we can reach you in the event of an emergency – including listing people outside of your household who you authorize to care for your child(ren) in your absence. Official information from the District to families will ONLY come from ParentSquare – not Facebook, radio, website, television, or any other outlet.

In the last four years, the District has invested in many new safety features and upgrades to address an emergency event, and ensure that communication between the District and our community is efficient, informative, and timely.

Here is a list of safety updates that GJSD families should be aware of:

  1. Automated Lockdown Notification System:  A new system has been installed in all four school buildings that enables administration and staff to call a lockdown as soon as they become aware of a threat. The coordinated system will automatically notify a sanctioned call center and launch a 911 response. Doors will automatically lock to keep people out of the building. An automated voice over internal loudspeakers will instruct anyone in the building to prepare for a lockdown. Blue flashing lights outside of the building will indicate to visitors that a lockdown is in place. No person should approach or enter the building during a lockdown. This system has been tested in each building over the last several weeks, and is scheduled to be taken out of “test mode” and go LIVE on Monday, June 3.

  2. Camera Surveillance System:  Over the last few years, upgraded camera systems have been installed internally and externally throughout all four school buildings and campus grounds. The system enables real-time viewing access on each campus. Administrators also have the ability to view electronically stored and secure footage when necessary.

  3. Raptor System for Outside Visitors: Every visitor to the school must present their license (or other government ID) to the main office so that it can be run through the District’s Raptor system. The system automatically performs a “background” check to make sure that person is not on any sex offender registry lists, syncs with the school’s records to confirm custodial rights, and allows the District to track every visitor. Visitors are given a dated sticker badge to wear with their photo on it, and must return the badge when they leave the building that day.

  4. Single Point Entry During School Day: During the school day, there is just one point of entry to ensure that visitors check in with the main office and present their ID for Raptor. That single entry point is monitored by personnel in the main office of each building. Visitors appear on camera and will be admitted entry only after they have been cleared by school staff to enter. All staff are directed to wear fully programmed access badges for the purpose of identification and entry into the school.

  5. School Resource Officer: JPD Officer Kerri Hauser is the District’s School Resource Officer. She is assigned to the District Monday-Friday during the school day. Her office is located at Johnstown High School. As a uniformed police officer, she will typically be the first person to respond to an emergency in our District, and has the ability to reach JPD directly for backup support at any time, should the situation call for that.

  6. Safety Plans:  Detailed safety plans exist for each school building, as well as for the District as a whole. These plans have been developed through a strong partnership with Fulton County Emergency Management, and continuous dialogue with local authorities. Both the Superintendent of Schools Dr. William Crankshaw and Assistant Superintendent Alicia D. Koster are members of the Fulton Co. Emergency Management Team. Safety plans are continually assessed and analyzed to make sure they are up to date and effective.

  7. Staff Trainings: Throughout the year, the District hosts opportunities for staff to learn how to use AED units installed throughout the buildings, perform CPR, administer First Aid, how to help someone who is choking, and how to assist someone who is severely injured and bleeding. 

As a reminder to families, if there is ever an emergency at one of our school buildings, please do not call the school and do not come to the school to pick-up your child. The District needs to keep phone lines open and accessible during an emergency, and staff will be focused on their specific pre-assigned roles during emergencies. If there is a lockdown situation, no one will be permitted to enter buildings, except for authorized administration and official safety personnel.

It is understandable that there may be a desire to rush to the scene in times of distress, but please note that emergency vehicles will be the only vehicles allowed on campus during an actual emergency.

Alicia D. Koster is the District’s Assistant Superintendent, tasked with overseeing the development and implementation of the District’s safety protocols and ensuring that staff is trained on the proper use of the safety systems in place.

“The District doesn’t share this communication with families as a way to instill fear. Rather, it is good practice to explain the protocols that are in place now, instead of trying to communicate this important safety information in the middle of an actual emergency. It is our hope that by repeatedly sharing what is expected of all of us, we will be as prepared as possible for a scenario that we hope never materializes,” Koster added.

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