FAQs

General School Safety Survey Questions

Can I give this survey to a staff member to complete on my behalf?

The school survey should be completed by the principal of the school; however, if completion of the survey is delegated to other staff, the principal/superintendent will be held responsible for the reliability of the content submitted.



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Do I need to submit a copy of my survey responses to my division superintendent?

No, unless your superintendent specifically requires you to do so. The web-based survey system allows each superintendent to access surveys submitted by schools in their division. The superintendent will be able to view/modify their schools’ survey responses and print copies of these surveys for their files.



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What is considered a "school" for purposes of this survey?

A school, for purposes of the school safety survey, is any separate physical structure that houses and instructs public school students during the school day. Regional, alternative, governor’s schools, head start, and preschool facilities that are not physically part of another public school building are therefore considered a “school” and must complete a school safety survey, regardless of where the enrollment of its students is housed.



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Who has access to my completed survey?

Completed surveys are viewed only by the school's division superintendent and by VCSCS staff. However, interested persons can submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and ask to view the information. As an extra safeguard, principals can designate the security-related section of their survey as “exempt from FOIA requests” should an outside party request access to a school’s survey responses.



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Why does the Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety (VCSCS) at the Department of Criminal Justice Services collect information through the school safety survey?

Virginia Code Section § 22.1-279.8 requires each local school board to require all schools under its supervisory control to annually conduct school safety audits as defined in Code and according to lists established by the Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety § 9.1-184. To see a list of items required in this year’s audit, visit the Virginia School Safety Audit Program homepage.

The VCSCS uses the school safety survey to collect information for the annual Virginia School Safety Survey Report which is made available to school safety practitioners, school division personnel, and legislators throughout the Commonwealth. The information is also used to assist the Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety (VCSCS) and the Department of Education in developing training and recommending policy to address emerging areas of school safety concern.



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Will my survey responses be protected from FOIA requests?

Responses to questions dealing specifically with the security of a school can be designated as protected information and exempted from FOIA requests. While completing the survey, you will see a section titled “School Security and Surveillance”.  Questions in this section are exempt from FOIA requests and the school division and the VCSCS will protect that information from release.  



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Taking the School Safety Survey Questions

Can I partially complete the survey, save it, and come back to finish it later?

Yes. If you need to stop filling out the survey and wish to save it so you don’t lose the information you’ve already entered, you will see a button at the bottom of the survey page that says, “Save and Close Survey” – click on it, and then you will be shown a link that looks something like this:

http://surveys.dcjs.virginia.gov/Survey.aspx?iid=71ef4176-ae64-4a18-94e0-13eafdac3275 

Save the link then paste it into your browser when you wish to continue the survey where you left off.

Completing the school survey typically takes 20 - 30 minutes. You can reduce error and minimize the time it takes to complete the survey by reviewing the survey questions  before starting the actual survey.



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Can I see the questions before I begin the survey?

Yes. You may view all the survey questions by clicking on the link provided here or from the link provided on the Virginia School Safety Survey homepage. It is strongly recommended that all persons taking the survey review the questions prior to beginning the actual survey.

Keep in mind, you won’t necessarily be asked all of the questions you see listed. Depending on how you respond to a certain question, you may or may not be prompted to respond to a follow-up question.



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How can I change my response to a question after I have completed the survey?

If you have completed the survey and reached the message that says “Thank you for taking the Virginia School Safety Survey,” your survey questions were submitted to our database and you can no longer change your response to any of the questions.

However, you may retake the survey. Just send us an e-mail asking us to delete your original survey. Be sure to include the date and time that you completed the survey you want deleted, along with your school division / school name, your name and a contact number, in case we have any questions. We will then delete the previous survey that you submitted.

If you are still logged into the survey and have NOT reached the message that says “Thank you for taking the Virginia School Safety Survey,” then your survey questions have not yet been submitted. To change a previous response, just page back using the “back” button on the survey page until you reach the question for which you would like to change your response. For more information about how to change your responses to certain types of questions, see the survey instructions.

If you are unable to page back through the survey for some reason, you may close out the survey with the response error and, instead, retake the survey. Just send us an e-mail asking us to delete your original survey. Be sure to include the date and time that you completed the survey you want deleted, along with your school division / school name, your name and a contact number in case we have any questions. We will then delete the previous survey that you submitted.

Your division superintendent also has the ability to change answers to a survey that has been submitted to the VCSCS by logging onto the Survey Manager using their division specific username and password.  You may contact your division superintendent and ask them to change an answer on your behalf.



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How can I print a copy of my survey responses?

Information about how to print your survey responses is provided in the survey instructions.



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How do I know if my survey was received by VCSCS?

If you have completed the survey and reached the message that says “Thank you for taking the Virginia School Safety Survey,” your survey questions were successfully submitted to VCSCS.

Additionally, superintendents will have access to all completed school surveys within their division via the VCSCS secure website.  Please contact your division superintendent’s office if you need to confirm the successful submission of your survey responses.



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I entered the survey password but nothing happened -- the survey did not appear. What do I do now?

To take this survey your browser must accept “cookies” from our server.  The survey instructions will help you troubleshoot this problem.



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Is there a time limit on how long I can take to complete the survey?

Completing the school survey typically takes from 20 - 30 minutes. You can reduce error and minimize the time it takes to complete the survey by reviewing the survey questions before starting the actual survey.

If your survey session does time out, you can retake the survey. You may take the survey up to three times. After that, the system will not allow you to log on again. If you need additional assistance, please contact Jessica Smith at 804.786.5367 or Donna Michaelis at 804.371.6506.



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What will happen if I fail to complete my survey by the due date?

Surveys not completed by the deadline will not be included in the annual Virginia school safety report. Superintendents of schools not completing the survey on time will be notified of non- compliant schools. A list of non-compliant schools may be published in the annual report.



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Who should I contact if I have technical problems with the survey?

For questions about the Virginia School Safety Survey or technical problems regarding the survey, please contact Jessica Smith at 804.786.5367) or Donna Michaelis at 804.371.6506) at the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services.



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School Safety Audit Questions

How is the Department of Education (DOE) involved in the school safety audit process?

The legislation concerning school safety audits changed in July 2005 giving total responsibility for the content and analysis of the school safety audit process to the Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety. The Virginia Department of Education no longer has legislative oversight of this process. The School Safety Protocol Checklists published by VDOE in 1997 are no longer necessary and you do not have to send certification to VDOE on their completion.



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Should I conduct a building walk-through with my school safety team?

Yes.  The 2013 General Assembly passed legislation (HB 2346) mandating the Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety to develop a school safety and vulnerability checklist for schools to use and mandated schools to conduct an annual walk through inspection using these checklists.  This tool will be available after July 1, 2013. The checklists will be required to be completed on a triennial basis with the first due date of August 31, 2014. View the Guidance for use of the School Safety Inspection Checklist here.

Your superintendent may designate other specific tasks to be completed in addition to the School Safety Survey.



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What is the difference between the school safety audit and the school safety survey?

The school safety audit definition is explained in Virginia Code § 22.1-279.8:

"School safety audit" means a written assessment of the safety conditions in each public school to (i) identify and, if necessary, develop solutions for physical safety concerns, including building security issues and (ii) identify and evaluate any patterns of student safety concerns occurring on school property or at school-sponsored events. Solutions and responses shall include recommendations for structural adjustments, changes in school safety procedures, and revisions to the school board's standards for student conduct.

The Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety is legislatively tasked with developing a standardized report format for submission of this information.  See Virginia Code Section § 9.1-184:

The Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety shall develop a list of items to be reviewed and evaluated in the school safety audits required by this section. Such items shall include those incidents reported to school authorities pursuant to § 22.1-279.3:1.

The Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety shall prescribe a standardized report format for school safety audits, additional reporting criteria, and procedures for report submission, which may include instructions for electronic submission.

At the present time, the standardized format for submission of safety audit data as prescribed by the Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety is the Virginia School Safety Survey.  Any other “audit” processes that the division superintendent deem necessary can be collected and analyzed at the local level but need not be submitted to the Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety.



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Legislative Questions

What does the school safety audit legislation say?

There are two primary Virginia Code cites that discuss school safety audit requirements. These are: § 22.1-279.8 School safety audits and school crisis and emergency management plans required; and § 9.1-184. Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety created; duties.



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What is required to comply with the law regarding annual school safety audits?

All school principals are required to complete the mandatory components of the school safety audit legislation as designated by the Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety. The 2014 requirement includes:

  • Completion of the 2015 School Safety Survey. 
  • Completion of School Climate Survey in Spring 2016 for 9th-12th grade students only.

All school superintendents are required to complete mandatory components of the school safety audit legislation as designated by the Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety. The 2014 requirements include: 

  • Complete the division level survey
  • Update of the division’s school list within the Survey Manager;
  • Review of schools’ survey submissions and update with any necessary modifications/corrections;
  • "Certify" accuracy of all completed surveys.
  • In addition to these survey-related requirements, superintendents also must certify by August 31st of each year that every school's crisis and emergency response plan has been reviewed and updated by the locality’s school board.
  • Certify, by August 31, that all schools in the division have completed the school safety inspection checklist. As of now, the certification of completion will be due again in August of 2017.


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