School Safety Drills


In School Safety 101 we emphasize the fact that school safety plans and their corresponding school safety drills are of vital importance for districts large and small.  The following illustrates the two primary types of school safety drills which should be practiced by staff and students alike at least once a semester. Throughout the nation, schools are developing, enhancing or modifying their Crisis Response Plans to include a variety of possible incidents that districts may face during the course of the school year. As these plans are provided to staff, administrators must be cognizant of the terms that are being used.

In some districts the terms “shelter-in-place” and “lockdown” are often used interchangeably, when in fact these terms have separate and distinct meanings.  In fact, schools can ‘shelter-in-place’ in the event of bad weather, effectively ‘locking down’ their students inside while keeping their doors open and accessible for others on the outside seeking shelter from the storm. On the other hand, a “lockdown” denotes that the building is secured and that no one enters or leaves the premises until the “All Clear” is given or when directed to do so by school or emergency personnel.

[cta headline="CSI's School Safety 101" buttontext="Purchase!" buttonlink="" ]  School Safety 101 presents detailed information on all essential elements of school safety including the standard crisis response drills such as shelter-in-place, evacuation and lockdown. Specific emphasis is placed in the book on developing internal capacity in schools through campus safety teams and crisis response teams. Because classroom teachers and substitutes need to know how to respond to a wide variety of incidents in the schools the RAIN Model is presented. For everyone else, including students, parents and volunteers the ESCAPE Model is presented for the first time in this edition of School Safety 101. [/cta]

 Following are some common definitions that may be used in a district’s school safety drills or Crisis Response Plan:

Shelter-in-Place: A Shelter-in-Place procedure may be implemented when a situation occurs that may be a hazard to health or is life threatening.  It can be used when it is safer to keep the students inside the building rather than expose them to possible harm by allowing them to leave the building. Tornado warnings, wildfires or terrorist incidents may all trigger a shelter-in-place, securing the students while keeping the buildings open for entry only.

A shelter-in-place may be called by school officials or other agencies such as emergency responders or local weather agencies.  A shelter-in-place might also be called by a principal or teacher or staff member with knowledge of an immediate danger. Once a shelter-in-place is called, the school should remain in that condition until the “All Clear” is given.

Lockdown:  A Lockdown procedure may be implemented when a situation occurs that may be an imminent hazard to health or is life threatening. It is intended to limit access and hazards by controlling and managing staff and students in order to increase safety and reduce possible victimization.

The building will have restricted access until the “All Clear” is given or individuals are directed by emergency personnel or staff. A lockdown may be called by school officials, law enforcement agencies or other emergency responders. A lockdown may be called for a variety of reasons including weapons, intruders, police activity in or around the school, contamination or hazardous materials, or terrorist events.

During a lockdown staff should ensure that:

  • All doors, windows, and classrooms will be locked
  • Students and teachers will remain in their classrooms
  • No one will be allowed to enter or leave the building
  • Parents will not be allowed to pick up children from school

During a lockdown, local authorities will provide assistance if needed.

For more information contact the Community Safety Institute.

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