Emergency Planning - Procedures - 3432-P
Safe school planning is a comprehensive process, including many dimensions of school safety measures. It can also include agencies outside of the school system such as local law enforcement, fire departments, and assorted other emergency responder entities.
The District and its schools will develop comprehensive all-hazard emergency operations plans that address prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery strategies. Plans will be revisited annually and revised if necessary.
In the event of an emergency:
- The report of an emergency will be directed to the Superintendent's Office, or designee
- If the nature of the emergency calls for immediate action on the part of a principal, they will take necessary action and report such action to the Superintendent's Office, or designee.
- The Superintendent's Office or designee will contact those departments and/or schools who must assist in the emergency action, and
- When appropriate the Superintendent's Office or designee will contact the local police department and the county department of emergency services.
District Safe School
The District Safety Officer shall develop and maintain a District Safe Schools Plan which provides direction for the development of building level plans, considers how school facilities might be used as community assets in the event of a community-wide emergency and sets guidelines for coordinating with emergency responders in the area. The District Safety Officer is also responsible for coordinating the District's annual reporting requirements to the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC).
At a minimum, all building principals must be certified on the Incident Command System (ICS). Building plans may also delineate other key personnel to be certified on ICS. School administrators are encouraged to seek out school safety training sessions when attending conferences and selecting workshops.
Drills are essential and are held to familiarize the occupants of a building with the signals, process, and procedures so that in case of emergency there will be no hesitation or confusion. Each school in the District will hold at least one safety-related drill per month to teach students and staff the basic functional responses to potential threats and hazards: evacuation, lockdown, shelter-in-place, and drop-cover-hold on. All persons in the building must take part in the drills. District schools may hold unplanned drills.
Schools will identify those drills that they intend to practice more than one time. The basic functional responses are adaptable and can be applied to a variety of situations. In responding to real threats or hazards, more than one response may be required. (An earthquake, for example, may require both a drop-cover-hold-on response followed by an evacuation.)
Each school in the District will document the date, time, and type of drill, and maintain the documentation in Rapid Responder. In addition to required monthly drills, schools are encouraged to conduct one tabletop exercise and one functional exercise with staff.
Each school in the District is distinct. It is incumbent upon the principal of each school to develop, adapt, and modify safety planning requirements, processes, and drills to the particular needs of the school. The school principal will ensure that all staff and students are trained and prepared for a wide range of potential emergency situations. Principals are encouraged to use a variety of options and opportunities to facilitate the training process. Each school will develop plans to teach students crisis response strategies and ensure that adults, including First Responders, are trained to follow established protocols.
The District is committed to supporting the needs of all students in the event of an emergency, including those with special needs and disabilities, and those whose first language is other than English. School emergency planning will consider the needs of these students throughout the four phases of crisis management and work to identify students' needs for accommodations and modifications related to safety planning.
Basic Responses and Drills
In an emergency, it may be necessary to evacuate students from a school. An evacuation is a functional response taken to move students and staff from one place to another quickly. The primary objective of an evacuation is to ensure that all staff, students, and visitors can quickly move away from the threat. Evacuation examples include responding to fire, bomb threat, after an earthquake, or internal gas leak.
Principals must prepare an evacuation plan for their school and carry out a practical evacuation exercise at least once a year. The needs for each school will be different, no common plan can be used to prepare all schools. Principals are encouraged to collaborate with local fire and law enforcement when making plans to evacuate your school.
In preparing for possible evacuations, principals should identify three types of evacuation locations:
- On-site evacuation location within the school (auditorium, gym, cafeteria, etc.);
- On-site evacuation location outside of the building (playground, football field, parking lot, etc.);
- Off-site evacuation location to a separate facility, as well as a possible alternate location.
When planning for an evacuation, principals should consider:
- The safe movement of students, staff, and visitors to designated assembly areas;
- The evacuation of students who are not with a teacher or staff member;
- Alternate evacuation routes and assembly locations in the event that the primary route or assembly area is unsafe;
- The evacuation of individuals with disabilities and others with access and functional needs, such as language, transportation, or medical needs.
The principal will instruct staff including teachers, administrative assistants, nutrition services staff, custodians, paraeducators, and bus drivers as to their respective responsibilities in an evacuation exercise.
The principal will be responsible for organizing and conducting such emergency evacuation drills as are necessary and will objectively evaluate the activity following each such drill. In the absence of the principal, staff should be able to conduct all aspects of the evacuation procedure.
A Lockdown is a functional response taken to secure interior portions of school buildings and grounds during incidents that pose an immediate threat of violence in or around the school. The primary objective is to ensure all school students, staff and visitors are quickly secured away from the immediate danger, such as armed intruders, violent behaviors, suspicious trespassers, on-campus shootings, bomb threat, sniper, or nearby police activity.
A Full Lockdown is initiated when hallways need to be cleared. Movement throughout building is stopped until an all-clear signal is given.
A Lockout is initiated to secure school buildings and grounds during incidents that pose a threat or hazard outside of the school building. Lockout uses the security of the physical facility to act as protection; it brings students inside the school when that is deemed safer than being outside. Movement within the building may continue as normal or may be adapted based on the situation.
Shelter-in-Place means to take immediate shelter where you are and isolate your inside environment from the outside environment. Generally, shelter-in-place lasts for just a few hours Shelter-in-place is initiated because it is safer inside the building or a room than outside. It is used to protect students and staff from chemical, radiological, or biological contaminants that have been released into the environment.
In planning for shelter-in-place, the school planning team should consider
- Supplies needed to seal a room against hazardous materials;
- Supplies needed to provide for the basic needs of students and staff (e.g., water; sanitary needs);
- The needs of individuals with disabilities and others who have access or functional needs, such as students needing regular administration of medication, durable medical equipment, or personal assistant services; and
- The possible need for and integration of "safe rooms" for protection against extreme weather hazards in order to provide immediate life-safety protection when evacuation is not an option.
The threat of an earthquake in Washington is ever-present. The standard functional response to an earthquake is: Drop-Cover-Hold-on. When an earthquake occurs, the danger can persist for some time.
Each school principal in consultation with staff is required to prepare a plan and conduct an emergency drop-cover-hold-on earthquake drill annually. Building staff are encouraged to contact the District Office and the county emergency service department for technical assistance.
The four basic functional responses are adaptable and can be applied to a variety of situations. Some threats or hazards may require the use of more than one basic functional response.
Preparation and Response to Specific Emergencies
Fire drills are evacuation drills held to familiarize the occupants of a building with the signals, evacuation routine, and exits so that in case of a fire emergency there will be no hesitation or confusion in leaving the building. These drills are for the safety of all persons involved, and each person must realize that the success of the drill is dependent upon his/her actions and cooperation.
- All persons in the building must take part in the fire drill;
- Every fire alarm should be considered as a warning of an actual fire;
- An accidental or otherwise unplanned fire alarm will be considered a real event and not counted as a drill.
Instructions should be given to all students during the first week of school in September. It is particularly important that kindergarten children, representing the one large group of children new to the schools, be given instructions in fire evacuation drill procedures for the building.
If anyone within the school is discovered or suspected to have a communicable disease that may result in an epidemic/pandemic that person will be immediately quarantined pending further medical examination. Local health officials will be notified immediately.
Any student or staff member found to be infected with a communicable disease that bears risk of pandemic/epidemic will not be allowed to attend school until medical clearance is provided by the individual's primary care physician or other medical personnel indicating that the risk of that individual transmitting the disease no longer exists.
In the event of prolonged school closings and/or extended absences by staff or students as the result of a pandemic (or other catastrophes) the Superintendent will develop a pandemic/epidemic emergency plan that includes at a minimum:
- The chain of command for the emergency plan, and the individuals responsible for specific duties such as quarantine;
- The specific steps the District will take to stop the spread of the disease;
- The process for identifying sick students;
- The transportation plan for sick students;
- Disease containment measures for the District, including possible required use of personal protective equipment and of social distancing;
- A continuing education plan for students, such a plan for remote learning including, but not limited to, teaching via the Internet, providing students with learning packets, assignments via mail, the School District's web resources, etc.;
- Procedures for dealing with student online safety and privacy;
- A Continuity Of Operations Plan (COOP) for central office functions including employee leave, pay, and benefits during a pandemic; and
- An ongoing communication plan for staff, students, and families.
Most bomb threat messages are very brief. When possible, every effort should be made to obtain detailed information from the caller such as: exact location of the bomb, time set for detonation, description of the bomb, and type of explosive used. Details such as time of call, exact words used, sex, estimated age, identifiable accent, voice description of caller and identifiable background noise should also be noted.
What to Look for
All unidentified packages found during bomb searches should be considered dangerous and left untouched, to be examined and identified by a qualified bomb expert. Bombs come in many shapes and sizes. Some are disguised, while others may be as crude as sticks of dynamite held together with twine or tape. One must be suspicious of any package that cannot be identified. Example: a brown paper package found ticking in an unlocked locker should always be considered dangerous.
Disposition of Suspected Bombs
In the event of the discovery of a suspected bomb, the following steps will be taken:
- Do not touch or attempt to move the package in any manner.
- Avoid moving any article or articles that seem to be connected with the bomb in any way that could be a triggering mechanism. Bombs have been set off by turning on a light switch or lifting a telephone receiver;
- Clear the danger area of all occupants; and
- Assign staff at entrances to prevent others from entering.
Additional Emergency and Drill Planning Considerations
The delivery of timely and accurate information before, during, and after an incident is a critical component of crisis and emergency management. Ensuring that students, staff members, parents/guardians, local response agencies, the media, and the community have information is the joint responsibility of the school and the Director of Communications and Public Relations.
Planning for communication and coordination will consider both internal communication and external communication with stakeholders during emergencies and disasters. Planning will also consider the communication of emergencies and disasters. Planning will also consider the communication of emergency protocols before an emergency and communication after an emergency.
The goal of integrated communications is to:
- Ensure relevant staff members can operate communications equipment;
- Communicate with students, families, and the broader community before, during, and after an emergency;
- Account for technology barriers faced by students, staff, parents and guardians;
- Effectively address language access barriers faced by students, staff, parents and guardians;
- Allow the Director of Communications and Public Relations to respond in a timely manner to media inquiries;
- Communicate to the community; and
- Ensure effective communication with individuals with disabilities and others with access and functional needs
Accounting for All Persons:
The planning team should consider the following when developing plans to account for all persons, including students, staff, and visitors:
- Who is in attendance at the school site;
- Who is in attendance at the assembly area;
- Actions to be taken when a student, staff member, or guest cannot be located;
- The process for reporting to the assembly supervisor; and
- How and when students will be dismissed or released.
Reunification and Student Release:
Planning how students will be reunited with their families or guardians is a critical component of emergency planning. Reunification is part of the Incident Command System. A comprehensive emergency plan needs to include procedures to accomplish the main priority of safety planning, which is to ensure the safety of the students to every extent possible.
There are a wide variety of emergency situations that might require student/parent/guardian reunification. Reunification may be needed if the school is evacuated or closed as a result of a hazardous materials transportation accident, fire, natural gas leak, flooding, earthquake, tsunami, school violence, bomb threat, terrorist attack or other local hazard.
As feasible, the planning team will consider the following when developing goals, objectives, and courses of action:
- The location of the reunification site;
- The methods used to inform families and guardians about the reunification process in advance;
- Verification that an adult is authorized to take custody of a student;
- The check-in process between the authorized adult and student at the reunion areas;
- Assurances that students do not leave on their own;
- Privacy protection of students and parents/guardians from the media;
- Methods to reduce confusion during the reunification process;
- Frequent updates for families;
- Recognition of technology barriers faced by students, staff, and parents/guardians; and
- Effective resources to address language access barriers faced by students, staff, and parents/guardians.
RCW 19-27-110 International fire code - Administration and enforcement by counties, other political subdivisions and municipal corporations - Fees-
RCW 28A-320-125 Safe school plans — Requirements — Duties of school districts, schools, and educational service districts - Reports - Drills - Rules -
WAC 51-54-0400 Emergency planning and preparedness
July 20, 1998
Revised: July 21, 2008
Revised: August 26, 2013
Revised: July 12, 2022