Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q. What is emergency preparedness?
    A. School districts have take developed emergency preparedness plans, including the steps staff will take in the event of an emergency and including a parent/guardian communication plan and an evacuation plan, to ensure your child's safety while in school.

    Q. Why an Emergency Management Operations Plan (EMOP)?
    A. Emergencies in schools must be addressed in an expeditious and effective manner. Schools are at risk for acts of violence, natural, and manmade disasters. To address these threats, the State of New York has enacted the Safe Schools Against Violence in Education (SAVE) law. Project SAVE is a comprehensive planning effort that addresses prevention, response, and recovery with respect to a variety of emergencies in schools.

    The District in conjunction with Orleans/Niagara BOCES supports the SAVE Legislation and intends to facilitate the planning process. The Superintendent of Schools encourages and advocates ongoing District-wide cooperation and support of Project SAVE.

    Q. Will parents be notified if an incident occurs at school?
    A. If an incident occurs, the District’s first priority will be to ensure that all students are safe and under adult supervision. Once this is completed, the School District will implement the PARENT(S)/SPOUSE(S) NOTIFICATION PLAN. This plan calls for the School District to:

    • Utilize telephone lists or television and radio media to notify parents and spouses of an emergency involving an occupied school facility.
    • Designate a reception center at a location away from the incident.

    Q. How can I stay informed?
    A. Each school district broadcasts emergency messages, when necessary, using a number of local media and electronic resources. Parents are encouraged to use these media sources for updates on emergency situations.

    Q. How will my child's school handle an emergency situation?
    A. All District-wide schools and facilities have an emergency preparedness plan. The specifics of each plan differ for each location. A response to a situation will differ based on the specifics of the situation. The flexibility of the plan is key to the success of the response. In general, each school has a crisis management team; develops evacuation, shelter-in-place, and lockdown procedures; designates one or more appropriate evacuation sites; provides training to personnel and updating of the plan; maintains checklists for dealing with specific types of incidents; and provides resources for help before, during and after an event. All school plans have been reviewed and school crisis teams have received training.

    Q. How can I see the security plan for my child's school?
    A. Your school district does not release this type of specific information pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (verbatim: Engineering and architectural drawings, operational, procedural, tactical planning or training manuals, or staff meeting minutes or other records, the disclosure of which would reveal surveillance techniques, personnel deployments, alarm or security systems or technologies, or operational and transportation plans or protocols to the extent such disclosure would jeopardize the security of any facility, building or structure or the safety of persons using such facility, building or structure). The law provides specific exclusion to the type of information that can be released.

    Q. What is lockdown?
    A. An emergency may prevent the safe evacuation of a school building and require steps to isolate students and faculty from danger by instituting a school lockdown. In an interior lockdown situation, all students are kept in classrooms or other designated locations that are away from the danger. Faculty members are responsible for accounting for students and ensuring that no one leaves the safe area. School personnel will also secure building entrances, ensuring that no unauthorized individuals leave or enter the building. Exterior lockdown procedures may also be used to ensure the safety of students when an incident occurs in the community.

    Q. What will school districts do if an emergency situation occurs while students are in school?
    A. The specific actions taken by school in any emergency situation, both district-wide and at individual schools, will depend on the specifics of the situation. Any action taken would depend on several factors, including the level of thereat and the advice or directive of local, state, and federal agencies. The safety of students and staff members will be the primary concern in any decision.

    Q. What is shelter-in-place?
    A. Shelter-in-place is a short-term measure (measured in minutes or hours, not days) designed to use a facility and its indoor atmosphere to temporarily separate people from a hazardous outdoor environment. If an accident or attack that created contaminated air occurred in the school area, students would be brought indoors. Building personnel would close all windows and doors and shut off the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC). This would create a neutral pressure in the building, meaning the contaminated air would not be drawn into the building.

    Q. What if a child is exposed to a biological or chemical contaminant?
    A. In the event of an exposure and the child is showing obvious symptoms, trained staff members (school nurses and/or environmental, health and safety specialists) are quickly available and would conduct basic decontamination per the emergency training directive. School districts also works closely with well-trained response organizations that will provide appropriate support.

    Q. What is basic decontamination?
    A. In the event that a child shows symptoms of exposure, school staff members or emergency response personnel would conduct basic decontamination. The child would be separated from other children and directed to wash thoroughly with soap and water. The exposed clothing would be put in plastic bags, and the bags would be sealed. Removing a contaminated person's clothing effectively removes in excess of 80 percent of contaminants from the person; the alternative would be to do nothing and thereby cause the person to suffer pain and possible serious injury.

    Q. Will I be allowed to pick up my child?
    A. Parents are allowed to pick up their children unless public safety officials restrict facility access. During any emergency, school personnel will maintain as safe and normal environment for children within the school as is possible. School is not automatically canceled in emergency situations. Remember, school may be the safest place for children to be.

    Students will be released to their parents, guardians, or emergency contact persons as soon as possible. Bring your photo identification with you (such as a driver’s license) if you are told to pick up your child so we can be sure all children are released to their proper parents/guardians.

    Children will not be released to individuals who are not authorized on the student's emergency card or who do not have written parent authorization.

    The emergency contact information is completed by parents and guardians at the start of each school year. Parents and guardians are encouraged to update this information as needed throughout the school year.

    Q. Does the school have a parent/child reunification plan?
    A. Yes. Each school has developed a reunification plan for reuniting parents with their children after a shelter-in-place emergency has occurred. Additionally, if public safety officials require that a school building be evacuated, students and staff members will be safely transported by bus or other means to a designated parent-student reunification center. Parents will be informed of the reunification location via the school's emergency plan and local media. At the reunification center, students will be released to their parents upon presentation of proper identification.

    Q. Will the evacuation and parent reunification locations be given ahead of time?
    A. School districts do not release this type of specific information, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act. This law provides specific exclusion to the type of information that can be released. Also, during emergency situations, circumstances could arise that might force changes to previously designated locations. Parents will be informed of parent/student reunification center locations via the local media and through school resources.

    Q. How often are fire drills conducted in my child's school?
    A. Twelve drill are conducted annually. Eight in the fall, and four in the spring.

    Q. Are schools stockpiling food and water?
    A. School districts have plans in place to ensure appropriate resources for staff and students for a short-term event.

    In the event of a large-scale catastrophic event, districts would rely on federal and state authorities for assistance. The shelter-in-place plan is to be used only in the event of a chemical, biohazard, or radiological event. In any one of these situations - which are usually localized (i.e., do not cover a wide are) - persons typically need to remain indoors only a few hours before the hazard literally blows away. After the danger has passed, children and staff members will be free to go to their homes. There may be other events that would cause people to be housed for longer periods of time in public buildings such as schools. In such an event, other community agencies, including the Red Cross, would be responsible for providing food and water. In all critical events of this type, the school system becomes part of a larger emergency response team.

    Q. What if my child is riding a school bus at the time of a crisis?
    A. The Transportation Department will be in contact for instructions in the event that a crisis occurs while students are in transport. Bus drivers will be informed to avoid driving toward the crisis location. Parents will be informed of the parent-student reunification center location via the school's communication plan and local media.

    Q. Can I pick up my child?
    A. Parents will be allowed to pick up their children unless public safety officials have declared a shelter-in-place response, or there is some other reason why access to the facility is restricted. During any emergency, school personnel will maintain a safe and normal environment for children within the school. Schools will not automatically be canceled in emergency situations because the school may be the safest place for children to be.

    Q. Who can pick up my children?
    A. Children will not be released to individuals who are not authorized to do so on the student's emergency card or who do not have written parent authorization. Parents and guardians, at the start of each school year, will complete the emergency card. Parents and guardians are encouraged to update the emergency card as needed throughout the school year.

    Q. What about my child's medication?
    A. If your child takes medication regularly, you the parent, should make sure that the school has an appropriate amount of additional medication on hand. Talk with your child's school nurse for more information.

    Q. How will my children know what to do in the event of a terrorist attack?
    A. Parents should inform students that if a crisis occurs while they are in school, their teacher will provide them with appropriate instructions. Parents are also encouraged to prepare a family disaster plan and practice it so that everyone will remember what to do if a disaster does occur. Everyone in the household, including children, should play a part in the family's response and recovery efforts. Teach your children to recognize danger signals, including what smoke detectors and fire alarms should look like and sound like. See the Better Prepared at Home section of this site for more information.

    Q. How are field trips handled?
    A. The impact of any critical situation on field trips - both district-wide and at individual schools - will depend on the specifics of the situation. If the situation warrants, all field trips will be canceled. There may be circumstances that could require the cancellation of field trips to certain areas. All school buses are equipped with radio communications with the Transportation Department. If a field trip is under way and must be canceled, buses would be directed to return to the school or a designated safe area. Any such decision would be announced through the district web page and school phone system.

    Q. What support services will the school system provide if an incident occurs?
    A. If an incident occurs, resources will be utilized within the school district to help students and staff cope with the emotional impact of the crisis. The team may consist of counselors, school nurses, social workers, and school psychologists who have received specialized training.

    Q. Are there evacuation plans for students with Disabilities?
    A. Your school has developed evacuation procedures specific to a child’s needs.

    Q. With whom may I speak to obtain more information about school safety?
    A. For additional questions, please contact your school principal or District Administration.