Link to Update Letter

Hello United South Central Families,

School Bus Policy Update - With the start of a new school year, our school board revisited several school district policies, one of which is our policy for transporting students on school buses. Even though this is not a change to our existing policy, one component we would like to highlight involves student behavior on buses. In cases involving distracting or inappropriate behavior on a bus, students will receive a written warning. Following a warning, another behavioral incident will result in a temporary suspension of bus privileges (with the length dependent on student age/grade level). Each year it is a difficult task to identify individuals to drive our busses each day, and we are grateful for the group of drivers that we have at USC. We appreciate your support in making bus trips to and from school and school events as smooth as possible. 

Emergency Drill Procedures - Ensuring systems are in place to provide a safe environment for students and staff both physically and emotionally is a district focus for us, and we continue to update and evaluate our plans for this annually as a district. The Minnesota legislature enacted some changes last spring surrounding emergency drill procedures in schools. USC has been implementing routine lockdown drills for many years, and we anticipate no major changes in practice for our students during the upcoming school year. In a typical school year, we are required to conduct five lockdown drills including both “soft lockdown” and “hard lockdown” drills. 

  • In a soft lockdown, teachers are asked to close (and lock) their classroom doors and continue teaching their classes as normal. Students are required to stay in their classroom and ignore passing bells or proceed out of the classroom until an “all-clear” is communicated. Soft lockdown procedures are typically utilized for a medical emergency or a situation in a hallway where an individual would require immediate attention. 

  • In a hard lockdown, teachers are asked to close and lock their classroom doors and proceed as if an armed intruder is present in the school building. In a drill situation, teachers may have age-appropriate conversations with their students about how the classroom space they are in may be secured as well as possible routes for exiting the building if the situation warrants.

Please note that no drills that United South Central facilitates are considered to be “active shooter simulations” and our procedures will not include any activities or elements intended to mimic the emotions of a real-life emergency. Our main goal is to prepare our students in the very unlikely event of an extreme situation at school while ensuring that our drill practices have no negative effects on our student’s experience here. The reason for our communication on this topic is a change in state statute that provides parents and guardians the option to opt their student(s) out of hard lockdowns (or active shooter drills). If the opt-out option is selected, a separate designated location within the school will be utilized as an alternative to being in a classroom during the drill. 

We are currently scheduled to practice hard lockdown procedures on October 5th, 2023, and March 7th, 2024. To opt-out a student from participating in hard lockdown drills please communicate directly with Mr. Topinka:

Mr. Taylor Topinka, USC Superintendent

By Email: ttopinka@unitedsouthcentral.org

By Phone: (507) 553-3134

The United South Central School District also partners with the Wells Police Department to provide a School Resource Officer assigned to our school district to support our school and continue to build relationships. This past year, area Police Officers spent a non-student day training so they are prepared in the event they would need to act for the safety of our students and staff members. In addition, we collaborate regularly at the building and district levels to provide a safe learning environment for our students and staff.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about our emergency procedures or drills at USC. This certainly is an important, but unlikely situation we must be prepared for during the course of each school year.

Thank You,

Jennifer Bye                                   Jennifer Taylor                                 Taylor Topinka

HS Principal                                    Elem Principal                                   Superintendent