What is Bellingham Public Schools currently doing to keep students and staff safe?

Physical Safety

  • Guests must report to main office, sign in, and wear badges; and staff members are instructed to report unfamiliar people to school office.
  • Entrances at several elementary schools have been remodeled for enhanced visibility and control of access into the building.
  • All new buildings are designed with CPTED principles (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) and the Director of School Safety sits on the planning committee for each new building design.
  • Each district site has a state-of-the-art emergency communication system, designed to expedite police response and improve situational awareness. The technology provides a direct line of communication with law enforcement personnel and dispatch and allows for real-time information exchange for better response in the event of an emergency.
  • A districtwide security site assessment was performed for by a third-party security consultant to evaluate security and identify improvement priorities.
  • Planning for new safety features are ongoing as part of the 2018 bond. New safety measures include lockdown shades for classrooms; an interoperable radio communication system; PA/intercom improvements for portables and older buildings, electronic access control for select exterior doors; interior door lock systems; and security cameras for interior common spaces and exterior perimeter locations at schools.

School-community partnerships

  • We partner with the Bellingham Police Department to provide a full-time District Resource Officer.
  • The district coordinates with all first responder agencies to ensure our procedures and plans for fire, earthquake, lockdowns and other situations are current and reflect best practices for student safety.
  • We bring in groups like the Red Cross to do preparedness education in our elementary and middle levels.
  • We work in close collaboration with the City of Bellingham Public Works Department for safe route to school planning and improvements, along with grants for safe walking and biking to school.

Crisis plans and preparedness training

  • District emergency communications plans are updated annually for the start of the school year, as well as emergency communication systems.
  • In-person safety training is delivered at each district site to provide updates for response and prevention best practices.
  • Each school has pre-identified offsite emergency locations, and agreements with disaster agencies like The Red Cross are pre-established for regional disasters.
  • Systems are currently in place for threat assessment, suicide prevention, incident reporting, and mobile crisis recovery teams.
  • Safety drills (such as earthquake, lockdown, fire) are performed at all schools for regulatory compliance per RCW 28A.320.125.

Proactive school systems

  • Our school provides school-wide behavioral expectations, caring school climate programs, positive interventions and supports, psychological and counseling services, and violence prevention programs such as bully-proofing, social skill development, and conflict mediation.
  • Over the past few years, we have added counselors to all 22 of our schools, and we have an additional grant-funded partnership to offer mental health support to any child in need.
  • We employ five full-time campus monitors at three high schools and one middle school. Campus monitors help with supervision and maintain close connections with students and assist in daily safety efforts during the school day.
  • We employ a security staff and commissioned police officers for large sporting events and school sponsored activities like dances.

Participation by students, staff and parents

  • We encourage students to take responsibility for their part in maintaining safe school environments, including student participation in safety planning. Keep your contact information updated, have a family plan, and an out-of-area phone contact. In a large emergency, remember that texts may work but phone calls may not.
  • As more schools receive computers in the one-to-one program, we’re engaging more with students and parents about digital citizenship and best practices on social media. View our technology resources for families.
  • A 24/7 anonymous reporting system offers means to share concerns via web, email, phone, or text. https://bellinghamschools.org/safe or 844-310-9560.

Jonah Stinson,
Director of School Safety and Emergency Management
360-676-6470 ext. 6534