How will my child’s school handle an emergency situation?
All Hall County School System facilities have an emergency preparedness plan. The specifics of each plan differ for each location. The response to each situation will differ based on the specifics of that situation. The flexibility of the plan is key to the success of the response. In general, each plan involves the designation of a crisis management team; development of evacuation, shelter-in-place and lockdown procedures; preparation of a portable critical response kit that contains key information and supplies; designation of one or more appropriate evacuation sites; provisions for training personnel and updating the plan; checklists for dealing with specific types of incidents; and resources for help before, during and after an event, as well as mobile access to Infinite Campus for student and parent contact information. All Hall County School plans have been reviewed and approved by the Hall County Sheriff office and Hall County Emergency Management Agency.
What is lockdown?
An emergency may prevent the safe evacuation of a school building and require steps to isolate students and faculty from danger by instituting a school lockdown. In an interior lockdown situation, all students are kept in classrooms or other designated locations that are away from the danger. Faculty members are responsible for accounting for students and ensuring that no one leaves the safe area. School personnel will also secure building entrances, ensuring that no unauthorized individuals leave or enter the building. Exterior lockdown procedures may also be used to ensure the safety of students when an incident occurs in the community. Parents are permitted access to the building and to their children if it is safe for them to do so.
In the event of an emergency situation, will the school go into lockdown?
The specific actions taken by the school district in any emergency situation, both systems wide and at individual schools, will depend on the specifics of the situation. Any action taken would depend on several factors, including the level of threat and the advice of local, state, and federal agencies. The safety of students and staff members will always be the primary concern in any decision.
A. The Principal or designee announces the Lockdown Level.
B. The SRO will be alerted.
Exterior Lockdown: Threat is outside of school. (Criminal activity around the school vicinity).
Lock exterior doors, monitor movement, remain in building.
Interior Lockdown: Threat is inside school (angry parent or student).
Lock exterior door, do not leave classroom, continue instruction.
Full Lockdown: Threat is inside school (Terrorism / possible weapon).
Lock doors and windows, immediately; all persons are to be out of sight in locked room, and are to remain inside.
What is shelter-in-place?
Shelter-in-place is a short-term solution to a short-term problem. If an accident or attack that created contaminated air occurred in the nearby area, everyone would be brought indoors, including those in trailers. Building personnel would close all windows and doors and shut down the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC). This would create a neutral pressure in the building, meaning the contaminated air would not be drawn into the building.
Shelter-in-place is a short-term measure (measured in minutes or hours, not days) designed to use a facility and its indoor atmosphere to temporarily separate people from a hazardous outdoor environment. The alternative would be to evacuate into a hazardous situation, thereby causing harm to all involved.
No stockpiling of water and food is needed for shelter-in-place. Any event of a magnitude that required such stockpiling would require that we all take our direction from the federal emergency management officials. Parents are concerned that, during a shelter-in-place activity, they couldn’t pick up their children and might be separated from them for long periods of time. That will not happen; if the air outside the school is safe for parents to breathe, it is safe for their children to breathe. School system personnel have developed a plan that uses the best possible method for ensuring the safety of students and staff members in this type of crisis. Remember it is not the school system’s intention to keep children from their parents. School system personnel are merely endeavoring to keep children safe for parents until the parents can pick them up.
Why are you keeping children from their parents?
The school system does not intend to keep children from their parents if a crisis occurs during school hours or school activities. It is the school system’s intent to make sure that children are safe inside their schools until such a time that the threat has been reduced. Parents will be informed of the parent-student reunification site location via the school system emergency messaging system and local media.
Can I pick up my child?
Parents are allowed to pick up their children unless public safety officials have declared a shelter-in-place response, or there is some other reason why access to the facility is restricted. During any emergency, school personnel will maintain as safe and normal environment for children within the school as is possible. School is not automatically canceled in emergency situations. Remember, school may be the safest place for children.
Who can pick up my children?
Children will not be released to individuals who are not authorized on the student’s emergency care card or who do not have written parent authorization. The Student Emergency/Safety Information form is completed by parents and guardians at the start of each school year.
Friends and neighbors may sign a child or children out with written permission from a parent or parents. Both (or all) parents have to give permission in writing for the sign out and pickup. Schools prefer to have written permission on the day that a child’s pickup will change but schools will also keep written permission on file. School offices will keep the permission notes; usually they will attach them to the emergency care card(s) of those involved. Schools will also ask for identification when the child is released to one(s) mentioned in the permission note. It is advisable to communicate with the teacher as well, perhaps with a copy of the signed written note.
Can I contact my child?
Parents are asked not to call the school in emergency situations so phone lines can remain accessible for handling the specific situation. Parents will be kept informed via the Hall County School District emergency messaging system.
What if my child is riding a school bus at the time of a crisis?
School bus drivers will be in contact with the Office of Transportation for instructions in the event that a crisis occurs while students are in transport. Bus drivers will be informed to use common sense and not travel toward the crisis location. Parents will be informed of the parent-student reunification site location via the school system emergency messaging system and local media.