The East Greenbush Central School District’s Health and Safety Committee met last month to discuss the district-wide lockdown that occurred on March 30. Following that meeting and other building-level and district-wide reviews of the incident, some new protocols have been developed for such instances.
Additionally, it was suggested that the district provide a list of questions and answers for parents to provide them with more information regarding school safety. That FAQ is listed below.
FAQ: School Safety
Q: Does our school district have safety plans and are they publicly available?
A: The East Greenbush CSD publishes a District-wide School Safety Plan each year in accordance with NYS Education Department regulations. That plan is open to public comment each summer before the Board of Education reviews and adopts it. The 2022-23 District-wide School Safety Plan can be found on the school website at: https://egcsd.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/2022-23-District-wide-Safety-Plan.pdf.
Each school also has a building level safety plan with specific procedures for that school. Those plans are confidential to ensure the safety of students, staff and visitors.
Q: Are teachers and staff provided with safety training?
A: Yes. Every school in the East Greenbush CSD engages in a comprehensive set of drills (fire, lockdown, lockout, evacuation) to ensure that faculty, staff and students are prepared should an emergency occur. In recent years, the school district has arranged for our local law enforcement agencies to provide CRASE (Civilian Response to Active Shooter) training to all faculty and staff.
Additionally, each November, every school in the district dismisses students 15 minutes early to test its Emergency Management Plan. The “Go Home Early Drill” tests the effectiveness of the transportation and communications systems in the event of an emergency with students transported to their emergency dismissal locations.
Each school has a building-level safety team that leads the safety drills and meets to discuss and review safety topics.
Q: Are schools always locked?
A: Yes. All of our schools are locked. Each school has a security vestibule at the main entrance which includes two sets of locked doors. Staff can use their ID cards to enter buildings but any parents or visitors must be buzzed in by school staff and present a government issued identification such as a driver’s license. Schools maintain a single point of entrance and maintain a visitor management protocol which includes the ability to run an instance background check on visitors who may not be known to the school.
Q: What is the difference between Lockdown and Lockout?
A: The term “Lockdown” is used to secure school buildings and grounds during incidents that pose an immediate threat of violence in or around the school. Doors are locked, windows are closed and locked, blinds are closed. People are directed to move away from windows and doors and remain quiet. Hallways are cleared of students and school staff.
The term “Secured Lockout” (formerly “Lockout”) is used to secure school buildings and grounds during incidents that pose an imminent concern outside of the school. Any classes are immediately brought inside, all exterior windows are locked. Some visitors to the building may not be permitted inside the building. The school day continues as normal. A Secured Lockout could be used, for example, if there is police activity in proximity to one of our schools for an issue which is unrelated to the school but for which additional precautions might be warranted.
Q: Do police officers work in our schools?
A: Yes, both Columbia High School and Howard L. Goff Middle School have full-time School Resource Officers. They are uniformed police officers who help create a safe and positive school environment. They lead safety drills and safety training sessions, present on safety topics in classrooms, and serve as a resource to staff, students and families. School Resource Officers are instrumental to the investigation of social media posts made by students and others who may be considering acts which pose a threat to individual students or the school. Unfortunately, across the country and locally such instances have increased in recent years.
Our school district maintains strong relationships with local law enforcement. Police officers visit all of our schools regularly to provide a presence at arrival and dismissal, but they also do walkthroughs, visit classrooms and participate in special events. It is routine to see police officers at each of our schools.
Q: Do our schools have security cameras?
A: Yes. Security cameras provide live and recorded monitoring inside our schools, school entrances and surrounding areas. The district maintains a district-wide system which is able to be monitored by the administration and law enforcement in the event of an emergency or the investigation of an incident.
All school buses also have cameras installed.
Q: Are school staff trained in CPR, AED and first aid?
A: School nurses, interscholastic athletic coaches, student club advisors, transportation staff and administrators are certified in First Aid, CPR and AED.
Q: Do our schools have AEDs available?
A: Yes. All school buildings have AED boxes accessible in prominent locations. Additionally, athletic games and practices have portable AED units available. More information about cardiac emergency preparedness can be found here: https://egcsd.org/departments/health-services/cardiac-emergency-preparedness.
Q: When are parents notified about a school emergency?
A: In the event of a school emergency, the school district notifies parents/guardians as soon as possible via the ParentSquare notification system. Notifications can be sent via text message, email and voice calls. Updates will also be posted on the district website at www.egcsd.org, our Facebook page and our Twitter feed.
Typically, emergency situations are fluid and multiple agencies are involved, so communication is sent as quickly as we can once it has been collected and verified. We will provide as much credible, accurate and timely information as possible. Information received from sources other than the school administration or our communications office may not be accurate.
Q: Is it possible for a parent or guardian to hear about a lockdown from their child or someone else before receiving notification from the school district?
A: Yes, the school district is managing the emergency incident and implementing its safety plan to ensure the safety of all students, staff and visitors at school. Information is communicated from the school to Central Administration with input from law enforcement. Once information is collected and an assessment is made of the situation, notification can be sent to parents/guardians via ParentSquare regarding the incident. This process takes time and is not instantaneous. Efforts are made to provide timely communication to families, students and employees.
Due to the nature of any evolving, emergency situation, communication is updated as we respond to events as they occur. We will provide accurate information as quickly as we can. However, information that could potentially put student or faculty safety at risk will not be shared until such time as the emergency is resolved and only once law enforcement has determined that it is completely safe and school resumes as normal.
If you hear about an emergency at school from your child or someone else, please help them remain calm and have them follow the instructions of the teachers and staff. Our staff is trained for emergency situations.
Q: Why are school campuses closed during a lockdown, like they were on March 30?
A: In an emergency, such as the lockdown on March 30, onsite staff are focused solely on getting everyone to a safe location. Parents and visitors going to that site can create unnecessary traffic, preventing emergency vehicles from responding quickly. If you get a call or text from your student, help your child remain calm. Remind your student that school staff know what to do in an emergency situation, and will work to keep everyone safe.
Q: How do we know a Lockdown is in process?
A: If a Lockdown is initiated at a school, automated public address announcements will go out over the loudspeaker. Amber lights, which are attached to the outside of all schools, will flash to notify anyone in the parking lot or approaching the school that there is a Lockdown and they should leave campus. A notification will be sent to all staff and parents/guardians with information about the Lockdown.
Q: In light of the swatting incident of March 30, 2023, has the district evaluated its protocols recently?
A: Yes, during the extended lockdown of March 30, the school district followed its safety plans and consulted with law enforcement to determine the best course of action to respond to that incident.
Reviews of the March 30 incident have included each building-level safety team, administrative meetings and the districtwide Health and Safety Committee. School nurses and the school transportation department have also worked in consultation with law enforcement. Some new protocols have been developed should an incident occur at school arrival or dismissal time. Such protocols would include options to temporarily relocate buses off school sites until such time as law enforcement clears each school and normal school activities can resume. Plans for such provisions as food or essential medical care for students who remain on school buses for an extended period during a lockdown are also being considered.
Q: Who is on the school district’s Health and Safety Committee?
A: Members on the Health and Safety Committee include the Superintendent of Schools, principals, teachers, staff, and our School Resource Officers and other members of law enforcement. The committee meets regularly to discuss relevant topics and promote a safe, secure and healthy school environment.
Q: Are there plans in place for allowing parents to pick up their children following the evacuation of a school?
A: Yes, our school safety plans include a reunification plan which outlines the procedure for reunifying students with their legal parents/guardians following the evacuation of a school. Instructions would be provided to parents/guardians via ParentSquare in that situation, which would include the location to meet their children, the reunification process and the need for photo ID during pickup.
Q: Is there a way to report suspicious activity or potential threats?
A: Yes. The East Greenbush CSD has partnered with STOPit Solutions, an anonymous reporting system. STOPit can be used at any time of day or night directly by students or others to report concerns regarding student health and safety such as self-harm, suicidal ideation, bullying, trauma and mental health issues as well as threats made against other students or the schools.
Anonymous reporting can be done through an online form or the STOPit mobile app. Once a tip is submitted, it is sent automatically to school administrators (or when they are out of office to a STOPit Incident Response Center which is operational 24/7). Once the report is received, school administrators will respond to the tip. Law enforcement will be contacted as needed. More information about STOPit Solutions can be found here: https://egcsd.org/2023/03/31/east-greenbush-csd-launching-new-anonymous-reporting-system.
All students, school staff and members of the community are encouraged to report anything they see, hear or are made aware of if it may impact a school or school program. Even if you don’t feel like you have enough information or you’re unsure of what it means, please call 911 or Report an Anonymous Tip.
Updated May 2023