It’s important that we know what the emergency preparedness plans are at any schools that we are associated with, whether your children go there, you work at a school, or there’s one in your neighborhood. It would be good to know what to expect in an emergency.
I wrote previously about what I found for emergencies at one of my local elementary schools. They had a backpack by the door that had a few things in it. Now let’s take a look at what emergency preparedness entails at a local junior high — at least the items easily visible.
Take a look at the photo above. This is what they have by the classroom door. That’s it. There are tabs for some categories; they say:
- Earthquake Preparedness – Teachers
- Bomb Threat – Teachers
- In-School Sheltering – Teachers
- Lockdown – Teachers
- Evacuate – Teachers
- Student Accounting / Parent Pick-up
- Staff Instructions
Each of the tabs contains very basic procedures to follow in these situations. Is it intended that the teacher familiarize themselves ahead of time, or is it sufficient that, when an earthquake or bomb threat happens, they grab up this handy dandy guide for classroom behavior? I’m not exactly sure.
You are likely familiar with the procedures for earthquakes, bomb threats and evacuation. But you’re probably less clear on the difference between “in-school sheltering” and “lockdown”. I know I was.
Actually, there is a big difference.
A lockdown is declared when there is an immediate threat inside or outside the school. It could be from an active shooter, a violent person trying to enter the school, or nearby criminal or terrorist activity. All classrooms are put under lockdown so that the students are as protected as possible from the threat. Usually, the students are locked down in their individual classrooms, but sometimes they go to a different specified place on campus. The teacher checks quickly outside the door for any students in the hallway and brings them into the room. Everyone is moved away from any windows (even a window in the hallway door) and out of the line of sight of doors and windows. All doors are locked, blinds are closed, lights are turned off, and all students are accounted for. Teachers and students then wait quietly until they get further instructions from the office or emergency personnel.
In-School Sheltering is declared in response to atmospheric contamination, including severe weather and accidents or attacks from biological, radiological, or chemical hazards. In this situation, the teachers are to close all exterior windows and doors and seal them (if possible) with tape or plastic. Preferably, the teacher would move all students to interior rooms, where there would be less exposure to outside air. If possible, they should also turn off all heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems. They should then take attendance and report to the office.
Now that you’re more familiar with this junior high school’s procedure, you might want to check with your local school to see what they have planned.