SD57 Working on New Emergency Protocol
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.”