Our most valuable and precious asset is our children. Collectively, it is the Okaloosa County School District’s responsibility to do everything possible not only to educate and prepare students for the future but to protect and provide them with the safest learning environment possible. Our school district takes safety seriously.
Okaloosa County schools not only have plans for conducting lock-downs, fire and severe weather drills, they also have written plans for facing a number of other crisis situations as well. These plans are regularly reviewed each year and all employees are trained or retrained annually. A variety of these drills are conducted at intervals during the school year so that both employees and students have experience with responding to a crisis situation on their campus. Each school’s drills are tailored to meet the unique circumstances of that school. Some of the factors that cause differences are the physical design of the school plant, the student population, and the age of the students at the school.
The Okaloosa County School District has not been exempt from experiencing tragedies over the years. However, because of excellent planning, preparation, and practice, we have always been able to successfully face each situation. Our school system has been one of the safest in the country for many years. Our commitment to you, our students, and employees, is to maintain this tradition of safety by continuing to plan, prepare, and practice responding to crisis situations.
In an effort to help parents become more aware of school safety rules and laws, we have compiled a variety of school safety resources and parents are encouraged to share them with their children and families:
The Okaloosa County School District staff stays in constant communication with the Emergency Operations Center in Okaloosa County for all weather-related issues. During severe weather conditions, we receive updates every 30 minutes throughout the day and night and base our decisions about school closings on numerous factors. All updates are communicated via automated phone calls, and website and social media posts. The safety of all children is of the utmost importance.
The Okaloosa County School District uses an all-hazards approach to planning for emergency incidents. Our Office of Safe Schools conducts risk and vulnerability assessments. It uses insight from state, local, and federal community partners in emergency management and public safety to inform the development of threat-and hazard-specific annexes for inclusion in the District’s Comprehensive Emergency Operations Plan (EOP). The District’s plan focuses on five readiness and emergency management phases for schools – prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery. The information contained in the EOP is confidential and exempt from release as a public record pursuant to section 119.071(3).
Students, faculty, and staff are trained in standard emergency response protocols. These protocols have been adopted from the “I Love U Guys” Foundation through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the School Board of Okaloosa County and the “I Love U Guys” Foundation. The foundation’s crisis response and post-crisis reunification programs are used in more than 40,000 schools, districts, departments, agencies, organizations, and communities worldwide. They are created through the research-based best practices of school administrators, psychologists, public space safety experts, families, and first responders. For more information, please visit https://iloveuguys.org/.
In accordance with the provisions §1006.7(4)(b), Florida Statutes, and Rule 6A.0018(10)(h) F. A. C., parents or legal guardians of students enrolled in the District shall be notified of threats affecting their student(s) and unlawful acts or significant emergencies as defined in §1006.7(4)(b), Florida Statutes, that occur on school grounds, during school transportation, or school-sponsored activities. The District's Office of Safe Schools shall coordinate the notifications and determine the timing and content of such notifications to parents. All such notifications shall be made as soon as practicable depending upon the nature of the circumstances and, when appropriate, shall be made after consultation with local law enforcement and first responders to avoid compromising the safety of students and the efficacy of the emergency response and investigation. All such notifications shall be made in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act ("FERPA"), 20 U. S. C. s. 1232g, 34 C. F. R. Part 99, and §1002.22, Florida Statutes.
Notifying parents will occur as quickly as possible through a "Callout." The District’s Office of Safe Schools is immediately notified by the school any time an emergency occurs on campus. Upon notification the Office of Safe Schools will coordinate with the appropriate public safety agencies, school administrators, and district senior staff. Once the information has been confirmed and the coordinated response is underway, parents will receive a callout by text, phone, or email informing them of the situation. We will continue to provide accurate, timely, and consistent information throughout the course of the incident or event. We highly encourage everyone to obtain information from reliable and trustworthy sources.
If your phone number has changed, you must update your child's emergency contact information at their school.
Circumstances may occur at a school that requires parents to pick up their students in a formalized, controlled release. This process is called a Reunification and may be necessary due to weather, a power outage, hazmat, or a crisis at the school. The Standard Reunification Method is a protocol that makes this process more predictable and less chaotic for all involved. Because a reunification is not a typical end-of-school day event, a reunification may occur at a different location than the school a student attends. If this location is another school, those students may also be subject to a controlled release.