Know Your School's Plans for Responding to a Crisis and How to Help
Every school in the district has a safe school plan that staff members follow if a crisis occurs at the school. Crisis events àre infrequent; however, when they do occur, schools and the district follow specific guidelines on handling each one. The plans help to protect the safety of students during the crisis. It is important for parents to know that, if they come to the school to pick up their child during a crisis, their child may not be permitted to leave the school. Parents who come to the school in a crisis not only can endanger the welfare of their own children but can also compromise the safety of other children and staff. Parent vehicles can initiate traffic congestion so that emergency vehicles cannot reach the school quickly. Parents who approach the school can unknowingly put themselves in the midst of a crisis, or parents can unwittingly allow an intruder to gain entrance to the school.
The school system operates an automated telephone and email system that accesses the district's database of parents' phone numbers and email addresses allowing the district to contact parents in the case of an emergency, school closings or with important information. It can send a message to as many as six telephone numbers of the parents or guardians of each student. These numbers usually include the home telephone, work telephone and cell number of one or more parents. CHCCS is also on Facebook and Twitter and posts updated information through its social media and app push notifications, as well as the district's website, www.chccs.org.
Most people are familiar with the protocol in the event of a fire at school. Fire evacuation methods have been practiced for decades as students are escorted to safe places outside of the school away from the fire.
Severe Weather Conditions
Forecasters issue a "Tornado Watch" when weather conditions are favorable for the formation of a tornado. When a tornado watch is broadcast, the schools continue their regular schedule without interruptions. Staff in the principal's office keep informed of conditions through radio, television, internet sites, battery powered NOAA radios and through contact with Lincoln Center. The school is on alert but does not change its schedule.
If forecasters issue a "Tornado Warning." then a tornado has been sighted. School staff members follow procedures to move students to safe havens within the school. Students move away from windows and go to interior rooms or hallways where they sit with their heads covered. During a Tornado Warning, students are not permitted to leave their safe area, even if parents arrive at that time.
If parents/guardians come to the school to pick up children during a Tornado Warning, parents will not be allowed to sign the child out until the Tornado Warning has been lifted. Parents/guardians will be allowed to enter the school for safety reasons, but they will be expected to stay until the warning has been canceled.
A lockdown occurs when there is a threat to student and staff safety. This threat can be an external threat, such as someone who is outside the school building in the surrounding area, or an internal threat when there is danger inside the school.
Lockdowns are rare; however, when there is a lockdown, access to the school building is limited to identified personnel, such as police and emergency crews. All doors that allow access to the school are locked, and no one is able to enter the school. Typically, roads are blocked off Parents/guardians who come to school will not be allowed to take their children out of school until the lockdown has been lifted.
The safety of students and staff is a priority during a lockdown. Going to the school to pick up children or more closely monitor events only creates traffic congestion and complicates the process for emergency personnel to secure the area.
During a lockdown, parents should realize that school staff will not be able to answer phones for the sake of their own safety. The district's intent is to give regular updates on any lockdown situation and keep parents informed.
As any situation develops, parents should consult local radio stations, news channels, the information line at Lincoln Center, 919.967.8211 ext. 28317 and the district website at www.chccs.org and its social media pages for updated information.
Transportation Away from a Crisis
Police may issue evacuation orders to remove students from a school during a crisis situation. If students must be transported to other sites parents will be notified through the channels noted above. All schools have alternative locations in the event of an evacuation. Parents will be informed of the alternative location only if an evacuation is ordered.
Throughout any crisis, the primary concern of all district personnel is the safety of the students and school staff.
Parents who have questions about school crisis responses should contact the school and ask for their crisis team leader, or school administrator. Parents may also contact Lincoln Center and speak with the district's Safe Schools Director at 919.967.8211, ext. 28285.