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October 27, 2017 6:46 pm

SD57 Working on New Emergency Protocol

Friday, February 24, 2017 @ 11:47 AM

Prince George, B.C. – In the wake of an incident last fall which  indicated a clown threat  was imminent  at  one or more  schools in Prince George, ( see previous story)  School District 57  has developed a new  protocol to  more accurately  describe the  measures being taken  to  address  such  situations.  

The new protocol is not  expected to go “live” until the new school year starts in September says SD 57  School Superintendent Marilyn Marquis-Forster as they are still  training  Principals and staff on  the new “codes” that will be implemented “We don’t have all the materials ready in our schools so we haven’t gone ‘live’.  There’s been lots of training and principals have been  briefed, but we are not  actually implementing it in SD57 as of right now.” It is her understanding that the new protocol is  in effect in the Catholic schools .

The current colour codes (yellow, red and green) do not  specify the  situation which has sparked the necessity for issuing a “code”. Superintendent Marquis-Forster says the new protocol  will “clearly state what each situation is called and what our reaction  in that situation is.” 

Marquis-Forster  says the new system  has new categories,  rather than colour codes because  colours  mean different things to different  people.  Marquis-Forster outlines the new  titles  and their  meanings:

Shelter in Place :  there is a hazard outside , everyone is to come in and remain  in school,  doors and windows are  closed and secured,  ventilation is turned off.  Marquis-Forster says this   could  be  put in play if there is a wild animal  on the grounds,  or  as was once the case in Valemount, where smoke   from a fire was   making its way into the building. “So if a parent hears ‘there  is a Shelter in Place at my child’s school’, the parent knows there  are no weapons involved  and it’s not something  they should be overly concerned about.”

Lockdown: ( formerly  code red) used in response to a dangerous assailant within the school ,  take control of any students in our vicinity, close and secure any doors,  turn off lights,  get out of  sight.  All cellphones to be silenced and placed face down on the floor.  All normal activities in the case of a  lockdown  will cease.

Hold and Secure: This reflects a security  issue in the neighbourhood,  such as police activity in a particular  neighbourhood,  “it is not aimed at the school,  school is not  being targeted and is not in imminent danger, but it’s not safe  for us to be out where we could be  interfering , getting involved or putting ourselves in danger.”

Room Clear :  “That’s used to move students away from the hazard that’s contained in one room or area” says Marquis-Forster “so if something goes wrong or something is happening in a particular area of the school,   we may clear that area.  We direct students to go to the previously agreed  upon alternate location.”

Evacuation:  “This is used if there are fires,  earthquakes, hazardous spills or other situations that  aren’t named, and everyone is to leave the building in a calm and orderly manner.”

Drop Cover and Hold:  “Used if you see signs of earthquake, explosion or as directed”.

“What we wanted to do, is ensure  that things were appropriate for 2017, that language was clear and that our  response was appropriate to the threat, or to the situation” says  Marquis-Forster “This one moves to a situation where we have more ways to describe what’s going on and how we’re responding.”

She says  parents and families will  receive  a “bright orange poster”  which  will have the  new  protocol  definitions and their meanings  “We hope families will put it someplace  where it is  available to them, so that if the information comes  out that a school is in a particular situation they can check it and say, ‘oh that’s what happened'”.

While  SD57 had  hoped to  have the new protocol in place  this spring,  she says  unfortunately ,the materials are  just not ready  “We will be live for September  2017  and the plan is , we are going to finish training  with our  school leaders, and then share the  information with our staff, and introduce it to students this spring and make sure  we are ready with the new protocol in  place  in September.”  Until then,  the colour code remains  in place  but here is what their equivalent would be under the new system that  will come into play  in September:

Code red =  lockdown

Code yellow = hold and secure or room clear or shelter  in place

Code green = situation returns to normal.

She says she is hopeful that until the new system is in place,  there will be more communication  so  everyone knows  why,  for instance,  a code yellow has been declared “I would hope a principal would say, we are in code yellow because there is wildlife on the playground,  just a little more communication.”



So…my question is: will each school react in the same way? During the clown scares, it was my personal experience that each school had a different protocol. One school I know of let their students roam around during the code yellow while another school had their students locked into classrooms during the same code. One principal ran around screaming at students to get into classrooms during the code red, while the other calming told students to remain in/get into a classroom.

Another question should be: why do the principals of each school get to decide how procedures are followed? The schools are not each principals’ own business but a taxpayer funded, provincial organization. There should be set rules for running all the schools.

Most Principals think the School is theirs and Do as they Like.
Saying YES to one person and NO to another person for the same Question.

Nice to see they have announced the changes to the media and general public, but the school staff have not had any information given to them. Management by news release is the new system? My family’s teacher has not had any info on this yet at all other than being told it will be changed.

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