Risk Manager Alex Huerta as he takes us on a tour of Spanaway Elementary to see how they're implementing the building health and safety protocols.
Q13: Right at School childcare program in the Bethel School District serves as reopening model
PIERCE COUNTY - Elementary students in the Bethel School District are positioned to begin a phased reopening plan in mid to late October.
While a date is yet to be determined, students in the Pre-K to second grade will be in the first group to begin in-person hybrid learning on an A/B schedule. A week after that, third through fifth grade students would join them, switching from virtual learning to the hybrid model. Read more here.
Emergency containers are just a small part of the district’s overall safety plan
Just because our buildings are currently empty doesn’t mean we stop thinking about school safety.
Each of our schools is equipped with a large Emergency Container meant to keep students and staff safe in the aftermath of a large-scale earthquake or other disaster. In addition to multiple 55-gallon water drums, each container holds heaters, a generator, tools, lights, first aid kits, and enough food to feed students and staff for 72 hours.
The containers, which the district buys used and then modifies to add shelving and insulation, have a lifespan of roughly a decade. They’re inspected twice a year to make sure the equipment and the containers themselves are working properly, according to Bethel Risk Manager Alex Huerta.
“It's important that we perform routine inspection of our emergency containers to ensure that the inventory is up to date and that the structural integrity of the container is still in good condition, in case our staff needs to access them,” said Huerta, who is in the process of inspecting the containers now.
Emergency containers are just a small part of the district’s overall safety plan. Recently, door locks were installed in classrooms throughout the district. The new locks allow students and teachers to put their classrooms in lockdown quicker. The district’s Hazard Mitigation Plan was also updated recently to determine safety priorities and find ways to avoid or minimize risk for our students, staff and parents.
School security remains top priority
New cameras and software will help make our schools safer
Safety and security has always been a focus for our district. As one of the first districts in the state to implement locked door camera entry to our schools, we are always looking for ways to improve and innovate when it comes to keeping students and staff safe.
This fall we will begin replacing our current security camera system with a brand new software from ExacqVision. A number of schools have been piloting the new software, and staff are now preparing for the district-wide rollout.
This new software features improved picture quality, interface, and search functionality, as well as support for mobile devices and Mac compatibility.
Senior Systems Engineer Patrick Emerick said the software update will be followed with camera replacements.
“We have plans to replace most of the older style cameras across the district and completely overhaul the cameras at six other sites,” he said.
The district will also be replacing the underlying storage in the data center with something more capable of handling the new system and cameras.
Every school in our district has a large Emergency Container to keep students and staff safe in the aftermath of a large-scale earthquake or other emergency. In addition to multiple 55-gallon water drums, each container holds heaters, a generator, tools, lights, first aid kits, and enough food to feed students and staff for 72 hours. To read more, click here.
Leading the way with safe and efficient buses
Bethel’s Transportation Department has long been viewed as a leader and innovator when it comes to safe and efficient school buses.
Over the past five years, the district has been replacing some of its old diesel buses with new, more fuel-efficient propane school buses. So far, 32 of Bethel’s 216 school buses run on propane.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, the district will soon get nine more buses that have the cleanest emissions on the market. Bethel will be the first district in the country to use the Blue Bird Vision propane buses, which are 90% cleaner than the current EPA standards.
Not only are the propane buses more environmentally friendly, but they’re also much quieter. Bus drivers say that feature makes their job easier and makes for a safer drive.
“When you have students in the back that are not doing what they’re supposed to be doing or following the rules, you’re able to kind of hear what they’re doing,” driver Josette Camacho told KOMO News, which recently came to Bethel to report on the new buses.
The nine new buses will be on the road by the beginning of next school year. In order to safely and efficiently fuel all of those buses, the district will also add a new 4,000-gallon propane tank by the fall.
Q13: Bethel Superintendent talks quest for school safety
SPANAWAY, Wash. – This weekend marks 20 years since the Columbine High School shooting. Over the last two decades, we’ve seen deadlier shootings at Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook Elementary, and Parkland. That’s why there’s continued emphasis to make our schools safer.
Shootings at schools are becoming all too common, but one of the first that sent shock waves across the country was at Columbine. Click the play button to view video.
What parents need to know about school lockdowns