The safety and security of children on our school campuses is the district’s number one priority. It’s unfortunate that schools across the region are experiencing an increase in threats that are forcing schools into lockdown or to take other safety precautions.
The district has emergency plans and procedures in place for various situations, including lockdowns, and schools routinely conduct emergency drills to make sure that everyone is prepared in the event of an actual emergency situation.
It is important for parents to be knowledgeable of these procedures and to know what occurs during lockdown situations. To get a general overview, we have created a list of frequently asked questions relating to lockdowns. Please contact your child’s school principal to learn more about specific safety procedures at their school.
Each year schools are required by law to update a school safety plan by March 1. The plan includes earthquake emergency procedures and a disaster policy for buildings with a capacity of 50 or more people. Schools must report on the status of the safety plan to numerous community leaders. In addition, a description of the safety plan’s key elements must be detailed in the school accountability report card. [E.C. 32286, 32288]
What is a lockdown?
Lockdowns are defined as the act of confining students and personnel in a secured location until the emergency or threat, such as police activity, is over. Faculty and staff are instructed to lock all doors and windows leading into the classroom or office, including interior doors that connect with other rooms, and close all window coverings. Students and staff are directed to hunker in a corner or safe area, away from doors and windows, and maintain silence. Instruction is halted. Doors are to remain closed and locked, and nobody is allowed on or off campus until the lockdown is lifted.
Who decides if a campus should go into lockdown?
A principal, site administrator or any public safety official may order a lockdown. In the event a principal or site administrator orders a lockdown, they must immediately contact public safety officials. Only public safety officials may deactivate a lockdown after consultation with all agencies involved if it is a multi-agency event.
Under what circumstances are lockdowns put in place?
There are many circumstances that may warrant a lockdown, including but not limited to: nearby police activity, threats to the campus or any individuals on the campus, natural disaster or environmental hazard.
What occurs during a lockdown?
Once a lockdown has been determined necessary, the administration will notify staff and students through whatever mechanism the school site has pre-selected to use for notification. This could be an intercom, email to staff, group text to staff or bells that ring a specific way for lockdowns.
All staff, students and visitors shelter in place in the closest available location. Teachers will secure the space and then take attendance. Accurate, realtime information may not be available during the lockdown. As information becomes available, every effort will be made to update staff and families. Students are advised not to text or make calls during a lockdown for their own safety.
While students and staff are safe, the lead police agency monitors the situation. Once officials determine the campus or surrounding area is safe, the lockdown will be lifted and all staff and students are notified. Parents will be notified as soon as possible that the lockdown is lifted, especially if action by them is needed.
Can anyone enter or leave campus during a lockdown?
No, nobody is allowed on or off campus during a lockdown.
How long is a typical lockdown?
A school can be on lockdown for anywhere between 15 minutes and five hours. Each situation is unique.
When will parents/guardians be notified about a lockdown on their student’s campus?
Every effort will be made to communicate with families as soon as possible either by phone, email or text message (if available). Our first priority is to keep students and staff safe during this time. If communication is not forthcoming from the school, please do not come to the school site or call the Department of Safety and Security.
What should parents do when they hear there is a lockdown at their child’s school?
Please remain calm and do not come to school. If there is police activity at or near the school, you could be putting your student or yourself in danger or interfering with law enforcement’s response by coming to the school. Refer to the district’s or school’s communication channel (School Messenger) and await direction from the school site.
Can parents pick their child up after a lockdown is lifted?
Yes, parents may pick-up their child after the lockdown is lifted. If the lockdown lasts past dismissal time, the school may use a modified dismissal in which teachers escort students to the front of the school and oversee the dismissal process. If a traumatic event has occurred, the school will initiate a formal Reunification Process.
When is the formal Reunification Process initiated?
If there is a traumatic event after which it’s decided that no more instruction will occur that day, a formal reunification process will be initiated. The school will make a call to parents asking that they come pick-up their student. Two areas will be setup: one for the parent to request their student, the other for them to pick-up their student. Staff and police officials will identify the child, get him/her from their classroom and release them to parents/guardians. Parent identification is required to pick-up your child.
How can parents learn more about the safety procedures setup at their student’s school?
Each school site has a School Site Safety Plan that outlines all safety procedures. The Ed Code requires this plan be updated every year.
If an emergency situation occurring in the vicinity of a school threatens student safety, the school may be placed under “lockdown.”
The District emphasizes keeping students safe at school through strict behavior standards, closed campuses, school resource officers, campus supervisors, and activities that keep students participating in school.
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