St. Thomas the Apostle is committed to providing its students with a healthy, nurturing and safe school environment. STA has a family spirit; it is important to us that we have a caring school community where everyone respects and trusts each other and where all students feel connected, understand expectations and receive the behavioral and mental health support they need. The following efforts reflect our concern for the safety of all of our students and to keep our school secure:
- Limited access to the school building. All school entrances are locked when classes are in session for the safety and protection of students and staff. The school has a security officer responsible for monitoring the safety and security of the building from the security desk in the main lobby. People are only permitted to enter the building through the south door before 8:15 AM and between 3:30-3:45 PM. After 8:15am and after dismissal, all parents and students are required to enter by the FRONT DOOR of the school building—not the parish entrance. Parents and visitors during the school day may enter through the main doors and are required to check in at the security desk before going anywhere else in the building. Visitors must pick up a Visitor Badge from the security desk before entering classroom areas. Parents or other visitors found in the building without a badge will be asked to return to the school office to obtain one.
- Monitoring of the school parking lot. STA has strict procedures for morning drop-off and afternoon dismissal as outlined in the Parent and Student Handbook. Cooperation with these procedures is essential for student safety and is continuously monitored.
- Monitoring and supervision of student common areas such as hallways, classrooms, and playgrounds. All St. Thomas the Apostle faculty and staff are responsible for supervising student movement throughout the building. Students are never left alone in a room.
- Participation in the Virtus Program. Schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago and over 50 other dioceses across the United States participate in Virtus, a program to help those who work with children maintain a safe and secure environment. All teachers, substitute teachers, teacher aides, catechists, school and parish staff must be Virtus trained. This includes, but is not limited to, parents who serve as coaches, room parents, field trip chaperones as well as those who work at school events. The purpose of the training is to ensure that the highest codes of conduct are followed and that children who worship, study, or take part in activities in our parish and school are continuously protected. More detailed information can be found in the Parent and Student Handbook or by contacting the school office.
- School-wide behavioral expectations. In guiding student’s growth in Christian attitudes, St. Thomas the Apostle School strives to emphasize positive interventions that build a child’s ability to choose appropriate over inappropriate behaviors. Self-discipline, responsibility, and accepting the consequences of behavior are emphasized. All students, teachers, and parents are expected to Stay Safe, Take Responsibility, and Act Christ-like every day. The students are expected to respect self, others, and all property.
- School preparedness drills (intruder alerts, weather, and fire) are held regularly, evaluated, and recorded.
- Partnership with the Chicago Police Department.
- Crisis plans and emergency preparedness training. St. Thomas the Apostle regularly reviews its plans and trains teachers and staff in crisis management.
Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of our children. St. Thomas the Apostle currently provides a safe environment for its students and intends to do everything possible to ensure that we continue to do so.
Parking Lot Procedures
In order to ensure a safe, efficient arrival and dismissal for our students, the following guidelines have been established for the parking lot at St. Thomas the Apostle School. Parents are asked to observe these rules daily, be courteous to one another, and respectful of parent volunteers directing traffic. Please view the STA Parking Lot Diagram for Drop-Off and Pick-Up.
- All vehicles must enter St. Thomas the Apostle School at the private alley entrance to the parking lot from Kimbark Street.
- Cars proceed in a single fine order toward the school sidewalk on the south entrance to school.
- Vehicles will proceed to the parking lot following the direction of the cones which will be in place each morning during the drop-off time. These cones will be located parallel with the school on the East side of the parking lot. Four vehicles can unload at a time as long as every car pulls up to the side entrance.
- Students should be ready to exit the vehicle once it comes to a complete stop. Adults are asked not to exit their vehicles at any time while in the drop-off lane.
- Please do not enter the parking lot from Woodlawn Avenue (the designated exit), or drive against traffic/drive diagonally across the parking lot.
- Drivers should exit the parking lot slowly; left hand turns are not permitted on to Woodlawn Avenue.
- Students may not be dropped off in front of the school building since this causes a traffic problem on Woodlawn Avenue.
- All vehicles must approach the school via the private alley entrance from Kimbark Street.
- Cars proceed in a single file order toward the parking lot on the south entrance to school.
- Drivers exit their cars and proceed to the cones which will be in place each afternoon during the drop-off time. The cones will be parallel with the school on the south side of the building.
- Students should be met by their parent at their grade’s designated location.
- Please do not enter from Woodlawn Avenue (the exit), drive against traffic, drive diagonally across the parking lot, or make a left hand turn on to Woodlawn Avenue.
- Students may not be picked up in front of the school as this causes a traffic problem on Woodlawn Avenue.
Parking During the School Day
Visitors are asked not to park in the school’s parking lot from 11:00 am – 12:45 pm since it is used for recess during that time. Cars parked within the lot during recess may not leave while students are present.
Please note that any cars parked in the parking lot between the school and church, in the alleyway, behind the school gym, or in any other non-designated location will be ticketed and towed by the Chicago Police Department as an obstruction of the fine lane.
School Closings & Delays
School closings or delays are occasionally necessary due to severe weather. In either case, families are notified through STA’s automated parent notification system, SchoolMessenger. Information is also posted to the school’s web site and broadcast on radio stations WGN, WJPC, WCFL, WIND, WBBM and WMAQ.
Classes begin at 9:00 am for a one-hour delay and 10:00 am for a two hour delay. School lunches are served and dismissal takes place at the usual time. On these days, the Before-School Extended Day Program begins at the regular time, 7:00 am; regular rates apply. During a school closure, the Extended Day Program is not available. The school will not be open for instruction and students are not to report to school.
Emergency School Dismissal
In case of severe weather during the school day, the school administration determines whether St. Thomas the Apostle School will close. The following procedures then take effect:
- The school notifies all families through SchoolMessenger, the automated phone system that there is an early dismissal; families are contacted via all phone numbers provided to the school – home, work and cell.
- Students whose parents are unable to pick them up or cannot be reached are sent to the Extended Day Program within an hour of the emergency dismissal.