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West Chester Area School District’s Safety Team Heads to the Pennsylvania School Safety Institute

This July, the West Chester Area School District’s (WCASD) Campus Safety Department accompanied by several WCASD School Resource Officers traveled to Mechanicsburg to visit the Pennsylvania School Safety Institute for school safety training.

The impressive training center is home to the newly constructed state-of-the-art 360-degree smart screen and multiroom school building simulator.

First, the WCASD team was trained on the basics of a trauma-informed approach for school safety, highlighting the effects of trauma and the impact it can have on student development and behavior in the school setting. They also reviewed the requirements under law and regulations for school safety and security programs in the Commonwealth.

Next, the team proceeded to the 360-degree simulator for hands-on training utilizing de-escalation tactics, critical thinking proficiencies, and honing situational awareness skills.  The use of five interactive large screens creates a truly immersive experience with scenarios that react to a participant’s live movements and reactions.

The final session of the day was in the multiroom simulated school building for violent critical incident training. The modular and mobile structure can be designed in a variety of layouts to enhance in-depth scenarios with a single storyline. Each storyline evolves and changes as participants move through the simulated school building, encountering and reacting to dynamic situations while overcoming the chaos of sirens, strobe lighting, and IED detonations. 

“The experience and training the WCASD Security Team received at PenSSI was invaluable in honing conflict resolution strategies, critical thinking ability and situational awareness skills,” said WCASD Public Safety Supervisor, Rik Thorton. “Running various scenarios with our designated School Resource Officers goes a long way toward building team cohesion and collaboration at all levels,” he added.

The School Safety Institute’s training was highly beneficial in optimizing safety and security to prepare the team to be able to best handle situations to create safe and secure learning environments for students and staff.

About West Chester Area School District: The West Chester Area School District is a leading public school district in Pennsylvania, serving a diverse student population across multiple campuses. The district is committed to providing a comprehensive education that educates and inspires students to achieve their personal best. For more information, visit