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As parents, guardians, and educators, ensuring the safety and well-being of our children is paramount. This page serves as a comprehensive safety resource hub, curated with invaluable tools and information sourced from reputable organizations, including the Virginia Parent Teacher Association (VA PTA) and the National Parent Teacher Association (National PTA). The array of resources address crucial topics our PTA units flagged as important to their members, including school safety protocols, responsible gun storage practices, strategies for preventing gun violence, and initiatives for substance abuse prevention. 


Empowering our community with knowledge and proactive measures, we strive to cultivate a supportive network that prioritizes the holistic development and security of every child within Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS).

Wondering what happens in an emergency situation at your child’s school? ACPS has these guides (in four languages) about what occurs during a fire, tornado, and earthquake as well as “secure the building” and violent intruder situations.


>> See additional FAQs on emergency procedures here.


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ACPS implemented Violent Intruder/Active Threat Training, utilizing the ALICE Training Institute program (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) as a guide. This approach aims to ensure both staff and students are prepared to respond effectively to the threat of violence within the school environment.  Through age-appropriate lessons and drills, students learn strategies to participate in their own survival and lead others to safety, while accommodations are made for students with diverse needs. 


Parents and guardians should note that the preferred ACPS response to a violent intruder/active threat emergency is Evacuation.


>> Visit here for more information on this training and when it occurs per grade level each year.


We also recommend familiarizing yourself with the various crisis management terminology ACPS uses in the face of potential threats. 


  • "Secure the Building" involves locking down the premises and preventing entry or exit until the situation resolves, typically in response to external threats such as law enforcement activity nearby or reports of dangerous wildlife. 

  • "Lockdown" is initiated when there's a potential danger inside or near the building, prompting staff and students to either evacuate or barricade in place. 

  • "Evacuation" entails moving to a new location due to an incident, like a fire alarm or gas leak, while "Shelter" requires seeking safe refuge during external threats like tornadoes or earthquakes. 

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It’s important that students, family, and staff keep their personal information and contact information up to date in PowerSchool and utilize ParentSquare. Throughout these scenarios, ACPS communicates via text, ParentSquare app announcements, emails, and website updates. Reunification protocols ensure a controlled release of students back to their families when safe to do so, facilitated by coordination with emergency response agencies. In an emergency, it is best NOT to drive to the site where activity may be occurring for your safety and that of others.


>> Explore school safety data reports by year and quarter.


The ACPS Anonymous Reporting System allows individuals to anonymously report safety concerns, including bullying or potential threats. You can make an anonymous report via the online form.


An emergency or a crime in progress, however, should be reported by calling 911.


Virginia PTA reminds us that there isn’t solely one way to talk to your child about a crisis. You may have to adjust your approach to fit your child. Here are some tips and resources that the Virginia PTA recommends:


  • Monitor media intake

  • Listen & be open to questions

  • Reassure and validate feelings

  • Be honest & share your perceptions

  • Consider taking a comforting action together (looking for age-appropriate information together, writing letters… )


>> National PTA: Discussing Difficult Situations with Your Children


>>LISTEN: Notes From the Backpack PTA podcast, Episode 64│Helping Your Child Through Crises


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Safe firearm storage can help prevent and minimize the risk of firearm-related deaths and injuries in schools, homes, and communities. According to the U.S. Department of Education, “Nearly 20 percent of childhood deaths are caused by firearms, and many deaths can be prevented through safe storage of firearms.”


The Department of Education provided the following tips for 


  • Safely Store Firearms: Store firearms—always unloaded—in a tamper proof locked cabinet, box, safe, firearm vault, or storage case that children or other unauthorized adults cannot access. 

  • Safely Store Ammunition: Store ammunition in a separate, tamper-proof locked cabinet, safe, firearm vault, or storage case that children or other unauthorized adults cannot access.

  • Secure Firearms: Use trigger locks or cable locks to prevent a firearm from firing.



*We have posted a range of resources. Please choose the one that you feel best meets the needs of your family, community, or PTA unit.


In March 2023, the ACPS School Board approved a pilot weapons screening program for secondary school locations within ACPS, not including K-8 schools. 


The weapons screening technology is designed to detect potential threats like guns and explosives, allowing individuals to pass through without stopping unless a threat is detected, indicated by a red alert. If an alert occurs, individuals undergo a secondary screening by administrators and security teams. See additional details here.


In 2023, ACPS and Alexandria Police Department also reached a new agreement to provide school resource officers (SROs) at the city’s high school and middle schools.


>> MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING: School Law Enforcement Partnership


ACPS strictly prohibits students from possessing, using, or distributing alcohol, tobacco, or drugs on or off school property, including substances like e-cigarettes and prescription drugs not used in accordance with policy. 


Prohibited behaviors include attempts to use, possess, procure, or purchase such substances. Even if parents decline services, students can still access support per Virginia Code.


>> ACPS Substance Abuse Services Referral Form


ACPS offers a substance abuse prevention and intervention program for schools K-12 through the Department of Student Services & Equity (DSSE), utilizing a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) approach. The program includes screenings, assessments, early intervention, targeted case management, and prevention campaigns, with guidelines prohibiting alcohol, tobacco, and drug possession or distribution on school property. 


>> Download: Fentanyl fact sheets for adults and youth in multiple languages


DSSE supports addressing substance abuse through various educational programs, counseling, and referrals to community agencies. 


>> WATCH: ACPS Spring 2023 Workshops on Substance Abuse Prevention (ENGLISH) (SPANISH)

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Through a partnership with Hazel Health, ACPS offers students access to teletherapy services at no expense to families. These visits are accessible both during school hours on campus and from home between 7am to 7pm local time. To initiate this service, families can sign up by completing consent forms online.


Additionally, children and families seeking behavioral health services can visit the Department of Community & Human Services at 4850 Mark Center Dr., 7th Floor, Alexandria, VA 22311, as walk-ins or virtual intakes. For more information, visit this page or contact DCHS by calling 571-213-7963 or emailing Services cater to those with Medicaid or no insurance, and offer support in English and Spanish, with access to other languages through interpretation services.




As of January 2024, Virginia was ranked by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as one of nine states with a significant increase in drug overdoses for all ages. Virginia PTA made substance abuse prevention one of its legislative priorities for 2024, and asked for the following:


  • Support for youth evidence-based comprehensive substance use education, prevention and early intervention programs as well as education on how to identify and respond to an overdose. 

  • Support school staffing requirements for substance abuse counselors. 

  • Support naloxone in schools and staff/ bus driver training on overdose recognition/response.


PTAC and its units are a part of Virginia PTA.

>> WATCH: PTAC, Parents for Safe Alexandria Schools, and ACPS 2022 Public Safety Forum

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