Balsz School District communications procedures during lockdown situations
Due to recent events both locally and nationally, we thought it would be a good time to share with our community the procedures we have in place when it comes to communicating about lockdown situations.
First, to be clear — the safety of our students, teachers and staff during a lockdown is our #1 priority. This is what guides everything we do in a lockdown situation, and is why we work diligently with the Phoenix Police Department and Phoenix Fire Department to ensure our lockdown procedures are as effective as possible.
We also recognize that it is critical to communicate to parents what is taking place in our schools. This is an extremely high priority for us as well. But we also strive to make sure our communications are clear, factually accurate and do not create an unnecessary sense of concern or panic.
During a lockdown, the first thing that happens is that a school notifies the District Office that the lockdown is taking place, and then turns all outside communications to the District. There’s an important reason for this — during a lockdown, the office staff is of course on lockdown as well, and needs to be in a safe and quiet place while law enforcement and public safety agencies do their jobs. It is also imperative that we keep our phone lines at the school clear, so that we can ensure clear communication with the appropriate agencies.
The District will then communicate with the outside community as it is provided solid, factual information from the school, law enforcement or public safety agencies. We do not communicate before we hear from these agencies because we would have nothing to report other than the fact that the lockdown is taking place, and would not want to create an atmosphere that would be counter-productive to addressing the situation. We avoid speculation or anything that would start rumors or fuel the circulation of incorrect information.
Once we receive solid information from either the school or public safety agencies, we then take steps to communicate as quickly as possible with parents and community members through a variety of different mediums. These include text messages and phone calls to the emergency contacts listed for each student, and through social media. All of this is done simultaneously through a central communications service. When appropriate and timely, we also translate the updates from English to Spanish.
Our overall goal is to stay true to our focus of putting safety first, and ensuring we only communicate solid, factual information that parents can rely on. Our procedures are similar to those used by almost every public and private school district, and are drafted in consultation with public safety and law enforcement agencies.
If you have any questions about our safety procedures, please contact the district office at 602.629.6400.