Student Safety

Student safety is of prime importance. At Northern Gateway Public Schools, we have several measures and procedures in place to ensure the safety of students, staff and guests. These include:

  • a Division Emergency Response Plan and School Emergency Response Plans which work in conjunction with other local support and emergency response agencies within our communities;
  • on-site emergency response teams at each school, along with a Division-based Emergency Response team who provide support and aid to schools during an emergency, and
  • regular training of all staff on emergency protocols, and drills which are practiced throughout year at each school.

The first priority for Northern Gateway Public Schools is the safety, security and well-being of our students and staff. While we hope our schools are never faced with an emergency situation, we are prepared to respond to an incident if one should occur.

Our comprehensive Division Emergency Response Plan is complemented by individual school plans, which are reviewed regularly and after an emergency occurs. Staff complete regular, online training throughout the year and practice safety plans during scheduled school drills. 

In order for our Emergency Response Plan to be effective, we depend on the cooperation and assistance of many people, including first responders and parents. Your cooperation is vital to helping us protect the safety and welfare of all children and staff.

Information in an Emergency:

In an emergency, we may communicate with you in a number of ways. We may call families directly or issue automated voice/text messages through Remind 101 or School Messenger. We will also share status reports through:

  • School websites. The latest news will be posted on the school home page.
  • Division social media channels on Twitter and Facebook
  • Division Office at 780-778-2800.
  • Local radio stations.

Help Keep your Child Safe in an Emergency:

Do not call the school. 
We understand and respect your concern, however it is essential that phone systems be available for emergency communications. Incoming calls can tie up lines, prevent emergency responders from making timely contact with the school and inhibit our ability to send or receive critical information.

Do not call or text your child.
By calling your child’s cell phone, you could potentially put your child in harm's way, depending on the nature of the crisis. In a Lock-Down, staff and students stay out of sight and keep quiet because there is an immediate threat to the school. A ringing or vibrating phone can reveal a child's location.

Do not go to the school.
Extra vehicles and people in the area can make it difficult for emergency workers to do their jobs. School administration will advise you if you need to come to the school or an alternate location to pick up your child.

Note: It is imperative that contact information for your child is current.

Reuniting with your Child After an Emergency

If it is at the end of the school day and an emergency has just been resolved,

  • school staff and/or emergency responders will be at the school and will direct you to your child;
  • if your child takes the bus, you will be notified if the bus is on time or late;
  • if your child walks home, staff will take necessary precautions to ensure your child is safe leaving the site, and
  • if your child’s class and teacher were required to go to an alternate safe site, you will be notified about where to go to pick up your child. Your child must be picked up by you, the parent or guardian, or an identified adult listed on your child's Emergency Contact list. Sign out procedures will be in place.

Emergency Response Protocols

On-Alert

An On-Alert is an early warning procedure for staff and students that can be used when a situation has the potential of escalating into a more serious event, for example, a suspicious person or vehicle in the vicinity of the school or a severe weather or tornado watch. It may also be used as an advisory to inform staff of a situation affecting the broader community.

During an On-Alert,

  • doors remain in their current state (locked or unlocked);
  • classes continue as normal, and
  • outside activities may continue or may be canceled depending on the nature of the On-Alert.

Hold and Secure

A Hold and Secure is used when there is a threat OUTSIDE the school which can include events such as criminal activity or police pursuits.

During a Hold and Secure,

  • regular classes and activities inside the school continue to operate; however, as a safety precaution, all exterior doors and windows are locked;
  • students will not be released from the school until emergency responders say it is safe, and
  • no one, other than law enforcement, is permitted to enter or leave the building until the Hold and Secure is over.

Lock-Down

A Lock-Down happens when there is an immediate threat to the school.

During a Lock-Down,

  • all interior doors are locked;
  • staff and students keep quiet and stay out of sight;
  • if staff and students are on a field trip, they will go to an alternate safe site instead of returning to the school;
  • students will not be released from the school until emergency responders say it is safe, and
  • no one, other than law enforcement, is permitted in or out of any area once it has been locked. 

Shelter-in-Place

A Shelter-in-Place is generally used during an environmental emergency, such as severe storms or chemical spills.

During a Shelter-in-Place,

  • students and staff retreat to safe zones to seek shelter. This includes having students or staff who are outdoors come back into the school; 
  • each school’s Emergency Response Plan identifies the safest location for its occupants and how to seal a room from hazardous conditions, and 
  • students will not be released or dismissed until the situation has been resolved.

Evacuation

An Evacuation requires all students and staff to leave the school and go to an alternate location. Examples of reasons for school Evacuation include fire, flood, a bomb threat or a gas leak.

During an Evacuation,

  • all staff, students and visitors immediately leave the building and proceed to the school's pre-determined meeting place;
  • everyone either stays at the meeting place or moves to an alternate safe site;
  • staff, students and visitors return to the building only after emergency responders say it is safe to do so, and depending on the situation, parents may need to pick their children up at an alternate location. If this is the case, parents will be notified via the school's regular communication channels.

Dismissal

Under some circumstances it may be determined that it is best to dismiss students as expeditiously as possible. Should this be the case, school administration will follow the process to alert each student's emergency contact.

For more information contact:

Division Office
Phone: 780-778-2800
Toll-free: 1.800.262.8674

Learn what happens and what you should do in the event of an emergency at your child's school.

 

The following terms represent the different responses that may be initiated by a school during an emergency:

On-Alert

An On-Alert is an early warning procedure for staff and students that can be used when a situation has the potential of escalating into a more serious event, for example, a suspicious person or vehicle in the vicinity of the school or a severe weather or tornado watch. It may also be used as an advisory to inform staff of a situation affecting the broader community.

During an On-Alert,

  • doors remain in their current state (locked or unlocked);
  • classes continue as normal, and
  • outside activities may continue or may be canceled depending on the nature of the On-Alert.

Hold and Secure

A Hold and Secure is used when there is a threat OUTSIDE the school which can include events such as criminal activity or police pursuits.

During a Hold and Secure,

  • regular classes and activities inside the school continue to operate; however, as a safety precaution, all exterior doors and windows are locked;
  • students will not be released from the school until emergency responders say it is safe, and
  • no one, other than law enforcement, is permitted to enter or leave the building until the Hold and Secure is over.

Lock-Down

A Lock-Down happens when there is an immediate threat to the school.

During a Lock-Down,

  • all interior doors are locked;
  • staff and students keep quiet and stay out of sight;
  • if staff and students are on a field trip, they will go to an alternate safe site instead of returning to the school;
  • students will not be released from the school until emergency responders say it is safe, and
  • no one, other than law enforcement, is permitted in or out of any area once it has been locked. 

Shelter-in-Place

A Shelter-in-Place is generally used during an environmental emergency, such as severe storms or chemical spills.

During a Shelter-in-Place,

  • students and staff retreat to safe zones to seek shelter. This includes having students or staff who are outdoors come back into the school; 
  • each school’s Emergency Response Plan identifies the safest location for its occupants and how to seal a room from hazardous conditions, and 
  • students will not be released or dismissed until the situation has been resolved.

Evacuation

An Evacuation requires all students and staff to leave the school and go to an alternate location. Examples of reasons for school Evacuation include fire, flood, a bomb threat or a gas leak.

During an Evacuation,

  • all staff, students and visitors immediately leave the building and proceed to the school's pre-determined meeting place;
  • everyone either stays at the meeting place or moves to an alternate safe site, and
  • staff, students and visitors return to the building only after emergency responders say it is safe to do so, and depending on the situation, parents may need to pick their children up at an alternate location. If this is the case, parents will be notified via the school's regular communication channels.

Dismissal

Under some circumstances it may be determined that it is best to dismiss students as expeditiously as possible. Should this be the case, school administration will follow the process to alert each student's emergency contact.

Follow the link for more information on the types of emergency responses most used in schools.

 

Northern Gateway Public Schools is committed to ensuring that every student and staff member employed by the Board is provided with a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe environment in which to learn and work.

 

Peer Conflict, Mean Behaviour and Bullying: What's the Difference?

When a child is having a problem with her or his peers, it can be hard for parents to know what is really happening – is it bullying? Or is it something else? Each type of behaviour must be handled differently, to keep children safe and help them learn how to get along with others.

Peer Conflict

Conflict between and among peers is a natural part of growing up. Children will have times when they disagree and can’t solve their own problems. They may even become so frustrated that they say mean things or act out physically by hitting, kicking or trying to hurt.

If it’s peer conflict you will be aware that these children:

  • Usually choose to play or hang out together;
  • Have equal power (similar age, size, social status, etc.);
  • Are equally upset;
  • Are both interested in the outcome; and,
  • Will be able to work things out with adult help (after calming down).

Adults can respond by helping the children talk it out and see each other’s perspective. This is often referred to as “conflict resolution”.

Mean Behaviour

Children may try out behaviours to assert themselves – sometimes saying or doing mean things – such as making fun of others, using a hurtful name, taking something without permission, leaving a child out, or “budding” in line.

Mean behavior:

  • Is not usually planned and seems to happen spontaneously or by chance;
  • May be aimed at any child nearby;
  • The child being mean may feel badly when an adult points out the harm they’ve caused.

When adults see mean behaviour they should not ignore it. Adults should respond quickly, firmly and respectfully to stop the behaviour, to let kids know that their actions are hurtful and to re-direct children to more positive behaviour.

This quick response stops children from developing a pattern of mean behaviour as their way of interacting with peers, and prevents mean behaviour from escalating into bullying. It is a lot easier to correct a child for one nasty comment than to change a pattern of cruelty that grows over time.

Bullying Behaviour

Bullying is a serious behaviour that has three key features – all three must be present for the situation to be considered bullying:

  • Power imbalance - One child clearly has power over the other(s), which may be due to age, size, social status, and so on.
  • Intention to harm - The purpose of the bullying behaviour is to harm or hurt other(s) – it’s intended to be mean and is clearly not accidental.
  • Repeated over time - bullying behaviour continues over time, and gets worse with repetition. There is a real or implied threat that the behaviour will not stop, and in fact will become even more serious.

The effect on the child who is being bullied is increased fear, apprehension, and distress. Often by the time adults find out about what is happening, the child has tried many ways to stop the bullying but cannot do so on their own.

Adults must address the bullying behaviour and ensure the safety of the student who has been targeted. They also need to reassure the children who may have witnessed the behaviour that adults are taking care of it.

When schools respond to bullying, staff will also help the child who has been bullying others to take responsibility for their actions, and change their behaviour. They will monitor the situation to ensure the bullying stops, and will support the child who has been bullied to regain confidence and a sense of safety. Staff may follow up with the students who observed the behaviour to help them learn what to do when they see bullying.

Toolkit for Supporting Healthy Relationships

We are pleased to share this Toolkit as we continue to promote positive interactions in our schools and communities. We believe that the best way to establish a positive school culture is to focus on the development of healthy interpersonal relationships. We understand that bullying is a relationship problem that requires relationship solutions. This Toolkit has been developed to provide strategies to teach and model social skills, assertiveness, empathy and conflict resolution skills. In addition, it provides our schools with information and tools to promote collective responsibility through systematic, school-wide collaboration. 

For more information, please refer to Northern Gateway Public Schools' Administrative Procedures:

Administrative Procedure 736: Harassment
Administrative Procedure 175: Welcoming, Caring, Respectful and Safe Learning Environment: Inclusive Practices
Administrative Procedure 361 Appendix 361-1: Code of Conduct

Learn how to recognize the difference between Peer Conflict, Mean Behaviour and Bullying, and how to resolve matters in each situation.

 

The goal of the Violence/Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) process is to ensure that every incident of youth violence in our communities is addressed. VTRA is early intervention, which is quite possibly prevention.

As a Division, and in cooperation with other local school divisions, government, RCMP and community partners, NGPS administrators and leadership staff have completed intensive safety training through the North American Center for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response.

Together, we have developed a prevention and intervention protocol to respond to situations in which students may be posing a threat to themselves or others. As always, our goal is to keep our students and schools safe and respond to threats in a proactive and coordinated manner that provides for a healthy and caring learning environment. The Whitecourt & Surrounding Area, Violence Threat Risk Assessment Community Protocol applies to all NGPS school communities.

Whitecourt & Surrounding Area, Violence Threat Risk Assessment Community Protocol

VTRA Fair Notice and Practice Information Brochure

Learn about the Violence/Threat Risk Assessment process, which addresses violent or threat-making behaviour in schools through an intervention process rather than a disciplinary process.

 

Most of these services are available 24/7 to both families and individuals in need. Click on the name of each service to learn more about it. Always call 9-1-1 if someone is in immediate danger.

Provincial Abuse Line

If you suspect an Albertan is being abused or neglected and don’t know where to turn for help, call the centralized abuse line. You will be connected to resources, supports, services and referrals to address your concern.

Phone: 1-855-4HELPAB (1-855-443-5722)

Child Abuse Hotline (24/7)

If you have reason to believe a child is being abused or neglected by their parent or guardian, please contact the Child Abuse Hotline to discuss your concerns.

Phone: 1-800-387-KIDS (5437)

Child & Adolescent Mental Health: Crisis Line & Mobile Response Team

Offers support by phone to children and teens during a crisis. Provides these services:

  • Assesses children’s needs
  • Offers information about community services for children and their families
  • Offers support
  • Teaches about mental health problems
  • Makes referrals to healthcare providers if needed
  • Arranges home assessments if needed
  • Provides links to follow-up care if needed
  • Allows access to a child psychiatrist

Phone: 1-800-387-KIDS (5437)

Canadian Mental Health Association Distress Line (24/7)

We are available to talk anytime – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Crisis doesn’t take time off, so neither do we. When you make a call to the Distress Centre, you will always get an answer, an open mind and a caring ear.

Phone: 780-482-4357

First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line (24/7)

Provides immediate, culturally competent, telephone crisis intervention counselling support for First Nations and Inuit, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Counsellors can also work with callers to identify follow-up services they can access. Counselling is available in English and French and, upon request, in Cree, Ojibway, and Inuktuk.

Phone: 1-855-242-3310 (Toll Free)

Kids Kottage

The Crisis Nursery offers emergency respite to families in crisis by admitting their infants and children up to 11 years of age for up to 72 hours, free of charge.

Phone: 780-944-2888

Division Resources

Fox Creek CHAMP Team Community Helpers and Mentoring Program 

The CHAMP Team is a Mental Health Capacity Building Initiative that promotes positive mental health in Fox Creek School and the greater community through a variety of programs. The Team also offers programs and services to Oscar Adolpson Primary School and Harry Gray Elementary School, in Valleyview. 

Program Coordinator: Sandra Hardy
Phone: 780.277.0094
Email: sandra.hardy@ngps.ca

Whitecourt Team for Success

A Mental Health Capacity Building Initiative that promotes positive mental health in Whitecourt schools through a variety of supportive programs.

Team for Success Coordinator: Teagan Arnott
Phone: 780.778.3898
Email: teagan.arnott@ngps.ca

The CREW 

The CREW is our newest Mental Health Capacity Building Team that promotes positive mental health in the communities of Onoway, Alberta Beach, Rich Valley and Darwell.

Program Coordinator: Sandra Hardy
Phone: 780.277.0094
Email: sandra.hardy@ngps.ca

Tammy Charko, NGPS Student Support Facilitator

Our Student Support Facilitator is an experienced Social Worker who advocates for students and parents and provides a link to local supports. 

Phone: 780.778.2800
Toll-free: 1.800.262.8674
Email: tammy.charko@ngps.ca

A variety of helpful phone numbers available for children, teens and parents in need at times of crisis. Most are available 24/7.