Illustration of people holding hands in a circle

Safety Services

Safety Services

Illustration of people holding hands in a circleA variety of supports to keep our students and staff safe and healthy

Charlottesville City Schools offers a variety of programs to support our students and staff. The foundation is a commitment to wellness and promoting a positive school culture. Beyond that, we proactively make plans to keep our students  and staff safe. Read below to learn more about specific ways we work to promote the wellbeing of our school communities.

Safety Programs at Charlottesville City Schools

A System of Supports

A System of Supports: VTSS and PBIS

Charlottesville City Schools has implemented a framework for creative a positive, consistent school culture using the models of Virginia Tiered Systems of Supports (VTSS) and Positive Behavorial Intervention and Supports (PBIS). The school division has won a trailblazer’s award for the way we have included attention to mental wellness in our implementation of VTSS.

Wellness

Wellness

Social, emotional, and physical wellness are foundational to life and learning

BME IMG_3751Charlottesville City Schools recognizes the strong link between a child’s social, emotional, and physical health and their ability to learn. Schools also play an important role in teaching children about wellness.

In 2016, our school division won a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools District Sustainability Award in recognition of our policies in place to promote healthy choices for our students and staff. We have also won national recognition for our attention to mental wellness through social and emotional learning programs and our systems of positive supports.

Our 2017-23 Strategic Plan places a strong emphasis on “Safe and Supportive Schools,” with specific goals for social, emotional, and physical wellness.

The School Health Advisory Board—made up of health professionals, community agencies, parents, educators and students—advises the School Board in the development and evaluation of our state-recognized Wellness Policy and programs that support the health and well-being of students, families, and school staff.

More Information:

Sample Partners and Related Programs:

 

Community

Fostering School Community and Relationships

One of the goals for Charlottesville City Schools is to promote a positive and inclusive culture in our learning communities.  Relationships are at the heart of a thriving community.  We strive to encourage strong relationships among and between staff, students, and families through mentoring and other initiatives.

Examples include:

  • A strong sense of community is at the heart of our division-wide framework for supporting students’ academic, behavioral, and mental health needs (Virginia Tiered Systems of Support and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports). Both Johnson Elementary and our alternative learning center, Lugo-McGinness Academy, have led the way as we establish practices that build community, encourage good behavior, and deepen relationships.
  • From school-wide meetings at Venable to Fun Fridays at Clark to the Harry Potter-style “house” system at Jackson-Via, our elementary schools promote a positive sense of community. Need another example? How about the “welcome back” field days at the start of each semester at Burnley-Moran.
  • We believe in mentoring, whether that means Buford eighth-graders serving as reading buddies at neighboring Johnson Elementary, upperclassmen at CHS welcoming ninth-graders through Link Crew, or teachers, coaches, and community leaders guiding students at every step of the way.
  • Our school counselors foster social-emotional health in a variety of ways. They offer classroom lessons, such as Walker students guiding their blindfolded partners to solve jigsaw puzzles. They also sponsor clubs and groups such as the Walker Peace Squad or the Jackson-Via Bully-Nots. Social-emotional learning is also part of our curriculum, and trauma-responsive practices are in place in all our schools.
  • Relationships (and reading skills) can deepen even during the summer through our teachers’ and librarians’ Books on Bikes program! The BoB team visits neighborhoods to deliver free books, popsicles, and smiles. (A therapy dog even makes the rounds!)
  • Parents are a big part of our school communities, whether through staying connected, volunteering, or attending  events such as Doughnuts with Dad at Johnson. We are proud to have a Family Engagement Coordinator and are so grateful for the good work of our active PTOs!
  • Clubs, athletics, and our amazing fine arts programs also build relationships and community.
  • An award-winning and comprehensive commitment to wellness — from mental health to outdoor gardens — lays the foundation for our community-building.

Related Information

Community Partnerships

School safety is not limited to the school day. We are a model of community partnership for areas such as mental health (partnering with Region 10 to provide no-fee counselors at CHS, Buford, and Walker); trauma-informed practices (co-founding and partnering with the Charlottesville Trauma Network for staff training and agency consistency); and community policing (working with the Charlottesville Police Department).

Safety and Emergency Planning

CCS color seal logo for faviconEmergency Planning

School leaders work throughout the year evaluating security measures and planning for crises and emergencies. Student safety is our top priority. We work with local first-responders, develop building-specific security procedures, and participate in emergency management training and activities. Each school has a threat assessment team to promote safety in the schools.

Our plans include:

  • Training for all employees
  • Routine safety drills
  • Building-specific security procedures
  • A team of care and safety assistants who build relationships with students, staff, and the community and who promote a safe school atmosphere
  • Strong and expanded school-based staffing of counselors, social workers, and psychologists
  • Threat assessment teams at all schools
  • Surveillance cameras, screening procedures for visitors, buzz-in entrances, lighting/locking upgrades, and standardized exterior door signage to assist first responders
  • Continued awareness of local or national events and their impact
  • Participation in local emergency management activities and drills with government, school, and public health officials
  • Attendance at school safety conferences to stay in step with best practices
  • Partnering with the community, including clearly defined situations when police come to schools to promote safety.

In 2020, the schools and the Charlottesville Police Department jointly ended our 2016 Memorandum of Understanding for School Resource Officers (SRO’s).  A new model for school safety was unanimously approved in spring 2021 and implemented in August 2021.  Find our CCS/Charlottesville Police Department Protocols (2021).

These emergency plans complement our larger goals for promoting safety by building systems of supports for all students, promoting wellness, and creating a positive school culture.

What Can Families Do?

There are concrete steps you can do now to make sure you stay informed and to help create a positive community.

  • Keep your contact info up-to-date. Has your telephone number or email address changed? Contact your school!
  • Customize how you hear from us – choose phone, email, or text! Log in to PowerSchool and click on “School Messenger.”
  • Stay connected with your school’s PTO!
  • Talk to your children about school safety, particularly when there has been a national incident. Click here for tips from the National Association of School Psychologists.
  • Follow the national conversation on school safety and advocate as you see appropriate.

Superintendent Committee on School Safety/Security Resources

In the fall of 2020, then-superintendent Dr. Rosa Atkins appointed a number of superintendent committees to provide recommendations in three areas (COVID-19, school names, and school safety).  The committee for school safety/security resources was prompted in part by the schools and the Charlottesville Police Department jointly ending our 2016 Memorandum of Understanding for School Resource Officers (SRO’s). The committee’s goal was to recommend the best path forward.

Thanks to our community members and all those who  shared your feedback. You can still find the committee’s materials on this page.

The final recommendation was to establish a team of care and safety assistants (CSAs) with deep relationships in the community to be an extra set of hands in the hallways and oversee safety  practices. The CSAs are trained in areas such as de-escalation, teen mental health first aide, safety procedures, and more. The plan also places more mental health professionals in our schools.  And finally, the plan relies on community partnership, including clearly defined situations when police will still come to schools to promote safety. Find our CCS/Charlottesville Police Department Protocols (2021).