Northern Virginia

Alexandria City Public Schools to Implement More Safety Measures This Fall

The Northern Virginia school system is making some changes to enhance security for the 2022-2023 school year. Here's what parents and students should know:

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Public school students in Alexandria, Virginia, will see more safety measures this fall when they head back to the classroom.

Alexandria City Public Schools sent a list of the new protocols to parents and staff on Tuesday.

Some of the changes for the upcoming school year include:

  • Designated entrances for students, staff and visitors
  • All middle and high school students will be required to carry student IDs
  • Additional security officers will be at all middle and high schools
  • Expanded cell service throughout the Alexandria City High School King Street Campus
  • All students will spend 30 minutes each day receiving "social-emotional learning"

“We're very excited, and my vision is just to continue to collaborate with our school leadership to make sure that we ensure the social, emotional and academic learning of our students, as well as we make sure we remove barriers to make sure they can access our learning and be successful," Interim Superintendent Dr. Melanie Kay-Wyatt said.

She said the school system has a new way to quickly share information with parents and guardians.

“So this year we do have a 'parent square' which is a mass communication system that will translate all of our messages really quickly into various languages. So that if there is a message we need to get out, it will get out to those families in a timely manner," Kay-Wyatt said.

School resource officers will be back in four schools this year, including Alexandria City High School, the Minnie Howard Campus of ACHS, Frances C. Hammond Middle School and George Washington Middle School.

The Alexandria City Council voted to reestablish the resource officer program after incidents involving students and guns.

“We think with some of these measures in place that we will see definite changes, but we are really focused on welcoming all of our students back to make sure they feel challenged in the work that we're doing," Kay-Wyatt said.

Part of that challenge will be the "social-emotional learning" aspect of the new protocols for schools. ACPS said that will entail community circles and other structures to reinforce positive behavior interventions and supports. Each school’s Student Support Team will also provide more targeted and intensive small group and individual interventions to students identified through their school’s Multi Tiered System of Support (MTSS) process, the school system said.

Staggered dismissal times were established in May at Alexandria City High School and the Minnie Howard Campus of Alexandria City High School after an 18-year-old Alexandria City High School student was stabbed to death in a fight that involved dozens of students in the McDonald's parking lot at the Bradlee Shopping Center.

School officials said they believe the change was effective in keeping students safe and, therefore, they decided to keep it in place this coming school year.

The school system has also reminded students and parents that all schools are "closed campuses," meaning students are not allowed to come and go without permission, including during lunch time.

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