School District 57 is will implement a new Emergency Response Plan in September. Since an online post of an armed clown caused several schools to lockdown in the fall, the District has formed a new system to provide more clarity to parents during an emergency.
“The previous system; and the one we are currently under because we haven’t implemented this one yet, had sort of three levels of response. Red, yellow and green,” says School District 57 Superintendent, Marilyn Marquis-Forster. “Once you say codes, perhaps our minds go to a disaster movie or something like that. So even though a “Code Yellow” really means there is no imminent threat but we are moving things in to be safe, it may have conjured images in peoples minds that weren’t necessarily accurate.”
The New plan has six different categories:
- Lockdown -used for a dangerous assailant WITHIN school
- Hold and Secure -used for a security concern in the neighborhood
- Room Clear -used to move students away from a hazard contained in one room/area
- Shelter in Place -used for an environmental hazard in vicinity (including wildlife)
- Evacuation -for fires, earthquakes or hazardous spills
- Drop, Cover and Hold -for signs of an earthquake, explosion or as directed
School District 57 reviewed the feedback provided by parents in the fall. It worked with the RCMP, First Responders, Northern Health, the Private Schools and the Catholic Diocese of Prince George to create the new plan. “We have borrowed and learned from Vancouver where a consultant has worked for a number of years at developing protocol that works very very well,” says Marquis-Forster.
The Catholic Diocese of Prince George released a statement saying the three Catholic schools in the region will have an Emergency Response Plan with “common language and practice” to that of School District 57. It adds this will enable consistency for First Responders in the area.
How School District 57 communicates the message to parents is still being sorted out. The District says it is working on the plan to provide parents with “clear communication” in times of crisis.