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ACPS requiring students to have IDs, other security upgrades as school starts

The summer break is nearly over, and Alexandria City Public Schools students will walk into more secure buildings on Monday, August 22.

That’s the message from ACPS, which after a violent last school year, has new security upgrades and procedures this time around.

ACPS will now require all middle and high school children within their walls to have their student identifications with them every day.

“This practice will allow building administration and security officers to ensure that only registered students are accessing the campus during instructional hours,” ACPS said on its website. “Please note that all ACPS school campuses are closed campuses. A ‘closed campus’ means that students are not allowed to come and go without permission, including during lunch time.”

In the first two quarters of the 2021-2022 school year, 18 ACPS students were arrested. There were 41 reported fights/assaults and 13 seized weapons, including a gun, five knives, a stun gun, two fake weapons, and pepper spray. There were also two robberies, three drug offenses, a bomb threat and 13 pulled fire alarms. Just before the end of the school year, an Alexandria City High School senior was stabbed to death in broad daylight in the parking lot of the Bradlee Shopping Center.

All ACPS students will now have 30 designated minutes every day for social, emotional and academic learning.

“Structures such as community circles will be used to deliver the RULER curriculum from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and reinforce positive behavior interventions and supports,” ACPS said. “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. Students will also be assessed using the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA) social-emotional tool to identify and grow individual and collective strengths.”

ACPS also announced that all schools have “designated entrances for students, staff and visitor entry, helping to ensure safety and managing facility access.”

Additionally, the school system will start a digital student identification pilot program at the Alexandria City High School’s campuses. The pilot allows students to scan an ID stored on their phone when they go into their school.

“ACPS staff also are required to visibly display their badge while in schools, Central Office and/or ACPS-owned properties,” ACPS said. “Another security measure will add school security officers (SSOs) to support school administrators at secondary schools.”

Superintendent Gregory Hutchings’ last day is August 31.

“On a personal note, I wish all ACPS students and staff a tremendous year filled with success as you achieve new milestones for yourselves and the school division,” Hutchings wrote on August 12. “As I am about to begin my new journey, I am so pleased that the division is being entrusted to a highly-qualified and dedicated leader in Dr. Melanie Kay-Wyatt, currently ACPS’ chief of human resources, who will serve as interim superintendent as of Sept. 1, 2022.”

Kay-Wyatt is expected to have the job throughout the 2022-2023 school year.

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