PORT WASHINGTON SCHOOL DISTRICT
EMERGENCY PLANNING ∙ A GUIDE FOR PARENTS
The Port Washington Schools have always been serious about being prepared for emergencies. Each year, the District’s entire Emergency Plan is reviewed and updated to meet New York State regulations. The plan addresses an enormous range of issues, from dealing with the onset of a crisis situation, to addressing the psychological and emotional needs of students and adults in its aftermath.
When an emergency occurs, the first and foremost concern of every staff member is the safety of the children in our care. This guide provides a brief description of how the school district will manage an emergency and how parents can support those vital efforts.
The Port Washington Union Free School District has established a District-Wide School Safety Plan (which is posted on our website) and a Building-Level Emergency Response Plan for each School Building in the District. The Building-Level Emergency Response Plan is a confidential document which cannot be shared with the public. Each of these plans is coordinated with police, fire and other officials in the county and state-wide agencies.
WHAT ARE THE SCHOOL SECURITY PROCEDURES?
All doors that lead to the outside are locked when school is in session. In order to enter the building, the parent/visitor may only enter through the main entrance and must obtain a visitor’s pass. Any unauthorized person on school property will be reported to the school Principal or designee. Unauthorized persons will be asked to leave. School personnel are required to wear photo ID badges for identification purposes. Children are instructed to look for these ID badges. Visitors are required to wear a temporary badge which indicates an individual is an authorized visitor.
HOW WILL THE SCHOOL RESPOND TO AN EMERGENCY?
The Superintendent of Schools or Designee may implement one of the following emergency response procedures:
Go-Home-Early: Returns students to their homes and family as quickly as possible. Schools maintain the names and contact numbers of family/guardians, and identify students with special needs. No student will be released to an empty home.
Shelter: Keeps students and staff in their buildings in a secure location when it is safer to stay inside than go out. Generally, sheltering is for a short time until it is safe to either evacuate to another building, or to send students home. However, the District is prepared to shelter students as long as necessary. This option may even be utilized during a bomb threat if specific procedures are followed.
Evacuation: Requires all building occupants to leave the building and go to a pre-determined, safe location outside of the school building. Evacuation could mean going outside to the evacuation site until the danger has passed. It could also mean going to the evacuation site with the intention to be transferred to another location. Circumstances in which this could happen would include severe weather outside, or a very dangerous hazard that requires students to be out of the area of the school. Evacuation locations are not given out to the general public for safety reasons. However, if students are transferred to another location, parents/guardians will be notified as soon as students are settled and safe.
Lockout: A lockout is a procedure which allows the school to continue with a normal day inside the building, but locks out any unauthorized persons into the building. A situation which could warrant this would be a dangerous person or threat in the community or area. Students will not be released to parents/guardians when a lockout is in progress.
Lockdown: A lockdown of the building requires all students and staff to remain in the room that they are in, lock all doors and stay out of sight. Students and staff that are in the hallway are to go to the nearest classroom. The presence of an intruder is one reason to invoke this type of response. The only way a lockdown can end is by emergency responders physically releasing all locations that are locked down. Students will not be released to parents/guardians when a lockdown is in progress.
WHAT KIND OF EMERGENCIES DOES THE SCHOOL DISTRICT’S EMERGENCY PLAN ADDRESS?
Criminal offenses such as bomb threats, kidnapping or violent behavior
Natural hazards such as severe weather
Environmental hazards, for example, exposure to hazardous materials, fire, explosions or plane crash
Medical emergencies including serious contagious disease, accident or illness of a student or staff member
ARE THERE EMERGENCY PLANNING DRILLS?
Yes, New York State regulations require school districts to test their emergency plans in each school building through exercises and drills. Parents/guardians will be informed of these drills, without specific details, to ensure safety.
SHOULD I PICK UP MY CHILD AT SCHOOL DURING AN EMERGENCY?
Not unless directed to do so. While every parent’s natural instinct in an emergency is to go to the school to protect his/her own child, it is important to realize that doing so may significantly affect the District’s ability to respond to the situation. For example, cars driving up to the building will restrict access by emergency vehicles that are responding to the emergency, or school buses that are loading children to evacuate them or take them home. The building’s staff will be actively working to ensure the safety of all students. It may seem logical that every student taken home by a parent reduces the responsibility of the staff, but in a fast moving situation that requires a great deal of careful coordination and communication, it actually makes the critical task of keeping track of students more difficult.
HOW WILL PARENTS/GUARDIANS AND STUDENTS BE REUNITED?
An area will be designated for parents to pick up students. Photo identification must be shown in order for a student to be brought to the reunification area.
WHAT PROVISIONS ARE MADE FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES?
Every school building has a plan of action to evacuate any student with special needs.
WHERE CAN I GET INFORMATION DURING AN EMERGENCY?
Chances are that you will have difficulty reaching the school by phone when you try. The school will be making every effort to contact you through automated calling systems and our website. The schools have every child’s emergency contact information that they have readily available for emergencies. Other sources of information include the PTA Presidents. School officials may utilize the parent organizations to activate their phone chains. TV News 12 and local media will also be utilized.
WHAT CAN I DO TO PLAN AHEAD?
The two most important things you can do are:
Make sure your child’s school has the most up-to-date emergency contact information.
Review with your child any alternative arrangements you have made in case an emergency prevents you from being home.
Last Modified on August 17, 2018