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School Safety & Security

Protecting our students and staff

Our commitment is to do everything we can to ensure that our children and staff are provided a safe, healthy, and supportive environment. We constantly encourage community members, students and staff to report suspicious activity or any concerns to school administrators and/or teachers as soon as possible.

The safety of children and staff is our first priority. Once we confirm everyone is safe, our next priority is the reunification of parents with their children.

Frequently Asked Questions about school safety →

Phone: 410-313-6840

Email: safety@hcpss.org

Emergency Response Plans

Advance preparation and planning can minimize the risks inherent in any emergency situation. HCPSS works closely with the Howard County Police Department, Howard County Fire and Rescue, and the Community Emergency Response Network (CERN) to develop coordinated emergency response procedures.

School Emergency Response Plans

Each Howard County public school has developed a School Emergency Response Plan. The plan is updated annually and reviewed with all building staff. It includes school site information, staff responsibilities in time of emergency, the type of training staff will receive and when training will occur, and annual plans for 16 drills.

The plan also defines emergency response operations such as potential command post locations, communications plans, the teacher “buddy” system, student release procedures, general emergency actions, and hazard-specific procedures.

Attached to the emergency plan are site maps, which identify assembly areas, traffic flow information, request and release gates, outside and inside command posts, loading areas, utilities controls and potential medical station areas. Also included are any prearranged agreements with adjacent businesses or facilities for the provision of emergency shelter.

Emergency Incident Kits

Emergency Incident Kits have been provided to each school. The kit, which is portable and can be replenished easily, includes such items as first aid supplies, emergency blankets, barrier caution tape, duct tape, megaphones, orange high-visibility vests, and an AM/FM radio and batteries. Schools are responsible for adding items to the kit such as school floor plans, a staff roster, student emergency procedures cards, and area maps. Additionally, each school has been issued a weather alert radio.

Protective Actions

The initial actions taken during the first few moments of an incident are essential to student and staff safety. Below are the protective actions used by HCPSS in times of emergency:

Lockdown

Lockdown is considered appropriate for, but not limited to, situations that involve extreme violence and/or gunfire and that immediately and directly affect the school site.

View Procedures

  • An announcement is made by runner or over the public address system: “Your attention please. Lockdown (pause). Lockdown (pause). Lockdown.”
  • If it is safe to do so, all students and staff are moved into the building or relocatable classroom immediately.
  • Students and staff in relocatable classrooms remain in place and follow the same procedures as those inside the main building unless the school incident commander determines another response is warranted.
  • All interior and exterior doors are locked. No one is to enter or leave the building.
  • If it is safe to do so, blinds and shades are drawn. If the room is without window coverings, lights are turned off.
  • If the situation warrants, students and staff sit or lie on the floor.
  • All students and staff are accounted for.
  • Staff and students are to remain in lockdown until emergency responders (police/fire and rescue personnel) or the school incident commander gives the “all clear” notice.

Modified Lockdown

Modified Lockdown s considered an appropriate response to violence, criminal activity, or any other situation that has the potential to affect the school site.

View Procedures

  • An announcement is made by runner or over the public address system: “Your attention please. Modified lockdown (pause). Modified lockdown (pause). Modified lockdown.” If the situation allows, an announcement regarding the nature of the emergency is made over the public address system.
  • All students and staff are accounted for.
  • Outdoor activities (recess, physical education, etc.) cease immediately and do not resume until further notice.
  • All exterior doors are locked and main doors are monitored with access restricted. Identification is required for anyone entering.
  • If the situation warrants, blinds and shades are drawn or if the room is without window coverings, lights are turned off.
  • A “Modified Lockdown” sign is placed on the outside of the main door.
  • Normal activity continues within the building.
  • Students and staff in relocatable classrooms remain in place and follow the same procedures as those inside the main building unless the school incident commander determines another response is warranted. Students must be escorted to activities inside the main building by at least one adult.
  • School remains in modified lockdown until notice to resume normal routine is given by central or school command.

Shelter in Place

Shelter in Place is considered appropriate for situations such as hazardous materials releases, nearby fires, and bioterrorism. Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and local public safety officials indicate that incidents requiring communities to “shelter in place” are viewed as short-term, measured in terms of hours, not days.

View Procedures

  • An announcement is made by runner or over the public address system: “Your attention please. Shelter in place (pause). Shelter in place (pause). Shelter in place.” If the situation allows, an announcement regarding the nature of the emergency is made over the public address system.
  • All staff and students report to assigned classrooms as quickly as possible.
  • Students and staff in relocatable classrooms move immediately into the main building.
  • Doors and windows are shut immediately.
  • All students and staff are accounted for.
  • If incident warrants, tape is placed around doors, windows, and vents; and wet towels are placed at the bottom of doors.
  • The HVAC system is shut off.
  • A “Sheltering-in-Place” sign is placed on the outside of the main door.
  • Students and staff stand by until given directions by school command or emergency responders (police/fire and rescue personnel).

Evacuation

Evacuation (on site and off site) is considered appropriate for, but is not limited to, situations such as floods, fires, hazardous materials incidents, or other situations that may render the school site unsafe.

View Procedures

  • A fire alarm or horn signal is sounded. If the situation allows, an announcement regarding the nature of the emergency is made over the public address system.
  • During an on-site evacuation, students and staff exit the building via the closest safe exit and assemble in pre-determined locations. The same procedure is used for off-site evacuation except that staff and students are transported or walk to a pre-determined off-site location.
  • All students and staff are accounted for.
  • Students and staff remain in the evacuation area and await instructions from school command.

Resources

Staying Up-To-Date

Using email and text alerts, HCPSS News keeps parents/guardians, staff, and community members up to date on news and events, and delivers real-time information on bus schedule changes, weather-related closings and emergency information.

Family File

HCPSS utilizes Family File for parents/guardians to complete emergency information. Parents/guardians must verify and/or update information for each child, and can do so by logging in to HCPSS Connect and selecting the Family File tab and then clicking on Family File.

HCPSS Connect Login

Trouble logging in? View instructions on resetting passwords. If you continue to have issues, please contact your child’s school.

HCPSS News

Parents do not need to create an additional account in HCPSS News. Updated email and phone contact information will automatically update in HCPSS News the following school day.

Learn more about the email and text alerts included within your HCPSS News subscription →

Mental Health & Wellness

How HCPSS Supports Mental Health

HCPSS promotes the mental health and wellness of each of our students to develop their unique strengths, abilities, and characteristics towards success and well-being. Staff consider the variety of factors that impact a student’s functioning such as age, cultural background, social emotional skills, academic outcomes, and access to resources.

Learn more about our mental health & wellness initiatives →