Emergency lockdown procedures

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Our priority is your child’s safety. Sometimes, a crisis situation can unfold inside or near an Ottawa Catholic school which could possibly threaten the safety of our staff and students. To protect everyone involved, we have developed specific emergency procedures to deal with potential threats.

We invite you to become familiar with these procedures. It is important that all members of our school community feel safe when they are in our schools. Learn more about the reasons for an emergency response, what happens in the classroom, and how we communicate these situations to parents.

The procedures were formed in partnership with the Ottawa Police Service, and are based on the Guidelines for Developing and Maintaining Lockdown Procedures for Schools in Ontario.

How we communicate

SchoolConnects is one of the communication tools used by the OCSB. It sends out emails and/or phone calls to our parents from contact information listed in our student database. A SchoolConnects message can be pushed out by individual schools to their own school communities, or the Board may send out a message to all OCSB parents.

Shelter in Place (Low level response)

This will be initiated when a potential threat exists outside of the building. Staff and students must remain inside the locked school for safety reasons. Students who are outside will be brought inside immediately.

Possible causes

  • extreme weather (hailstorm, severe lightning)
  • environmental issues (wildlife near the school, forest fire, gas leak)
  • incident involving emergency response close to the school (traffic accident with serious injuries)
  • possible threatening situation which has not yet been investigated or confirmed
  • any other circumstance where the school principal needs to ensure student safety

What happens in the classroom

  • Teachers reassure students that there is no imminent threat and that they are safe while they remain inside the school.
  • exterior school doors are locked and all windows are closed
  • lights stay on and the classroom door is kept open
  • regular classroom instruction continues
  • students follow the normal daily rotation of classes
  • students may access washrooms, with teacher permission

Communication with parents

Students are not allowed to leave the building. Parents, students or outside visitors will not be allowed to enter the school. Parents will receive an email and/or phone call message indicating that a Shelter in Place has been initiated. Another message will be sent out once it has ended.

Secure School (Moderate level response)

This will be initiated when a potential threat exists inside or outside of the building. Staff and students must remain inside their classrooms with the doors closed and locked. All exterior school doors and windows will also be locked. Students who are outside the building or their classroom will be directed to the closest safe area of the building.

Possible causes

  • emergency situation inside the school where people moving around might prevent authorities from doing their job (police, fire, medical)
  • incident involving emergency response close to the school (traffic accident with serious injuries)
  • investigation of a bomb threat, but immediate evacuation is not required
  • an intruder is suspected to be a possible threat to staff or student safety
  • possible life-threatening situation which has not yet been investigated or confirmed
  • any other circumstance where the school principal needs to ensure student safety

What happens in the classroom

  • Teachers reassure students that there is no imminent threat inside the school and that they are safe while they remain inside the classroom
  • exterior school doors and windows are locked
  • lights stay on and the classroom door is closed and locked
  • regular classroom instruction continues
  • students are not allowed to leave the classroom
  • medical or washroom emergencies are addressed individually by teachers

If a student has an urgent medical or biological need, teachers will call the main office to ask for help from an available staff member. This staff member will bring food to the classroom if needed, or escort students to the washroom

Communication with parents

Students are not allowed to leave the building. Parents, students or outside visitors will not be allowed to enter the school. Parents will receive an email and/or phone call indicating that a Secure School has been initiated. Another message will be sent out once it has ended. If the situation changes to an active threat where serious injury or death is imminent or occurring, Lockdown procedures will be initiated.

Lockdown (Highest level response)

This is the highest level of response to a threat. Staff call 911, and everyone must remain silent, out of sight, with the lights off, and behind locked doors. Once police arrive, they take command of the school and direct the response. Once the school is released from Lockdown, a Secure School procedure is put in place.

Possible causes

  • an intruder is suspected to be a possible threat to staff and student life or safety
  • imminent danger is present on the school site and safety of all is threatened
  • any other circumstance where the school principal needs to ensure student safety

What happens in the classroom

  • exterior school doors and windows are locked
  • lights are turned off on and the classroom door is closed and locked
  • students are not permitted to leave the classroom
  • staff and students stay silent and hidden away in the safest area of the room

Communication with parents

Police will not allow students to leave the building. Parents, students or outside visitors will not be allowed to enter the school, while it is under the direction of the police. Since all areas of the school will be in Lockdown, the main office will not be able to receive phone calls. Parents will receive an email and/or phone call indicating that a Lockdown has been initiated. Another message will be sent out once it has ended.