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Thank you in advance for submitting your report and doing your part to help make our schools safe places to learn and work.
In case of emergency…
Safety is our job. Every school, every student, every staff member should feel safe when they walk through our doors for a day of teaching and learning.
Students and staff participate in hours of training for many types of emergencies — from tornados to fire to active shooters. The following is to provide parents information about what happens when a threat is reported, how we plan and practice for an emergency and to educate and give advice prior to an emergency situation.
Events over the past decade have caused Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) and schools across the nation to rethink school safety and work even harder to make schools the safest possible places for our students and staff. We value safety and we are creating a culture of putting safety first while helping parents know what is expected during a crisis.
The ultimate goal is to prevent unsafe situations. It takes all of us — parents, community members, students and staff — working together to keep our schools safe.
If you see something, say something. Please remind your children to do the same. All reports are thoroughly investigated, often with the assistance of our School Resource Officers (SROs), who are sworn members of the Charles County Sheriff’s Office. To make reporting easier, the button at the top of the page allows anyone to anonymously report anything you think threatens school safety.
Each school has emergency plans. The plans provide basic guidelines and procedures for staff to follow the in event of an emergency. All staff is provided information about the plans and their individual responsibilities in the event of an emergency. CCPS updates, reviews and revises school plans annually.
Schools can share the steps they follow during a crisis, including where you should reunite with your child in the event of a school emergency. There are many aspects of school crisis plans that the school cannot share, such as the floor plans and schematics. However, parents can learn individual school processes, procedures and what is expected of students, staff and parents. Each school plan is unique and adjusted for the school size, facility and area.
Safety terminology and procedures:
When a school goes into shelter-in-place, it means no one comes in the building and no one leaves. Staff locks all doors and “sheltering-in-place” signs are posted on outside doors. Students and staff in temporary classrooms and outside areas come into the main building.
After all staff and students are secured in the building, the doors may not be opened until authorities give the principal an "all-clear" signal. Schools shelter-in-place to avoid moving students toward a potential threat and to keep a potential threat from getting to students.
Shelter-in-place is different from a lockdown, requiring two different emergency responses. Normal activities may continue inside the building during a shelter-in-place. During a lockdown, students and staff must stay in classrooms.
Schools shelter-in-place for a number of reasons. It could be to keep the area outside the school clear for a helicopter to land to pick up an accident victim or a student in distress, in response to severe weather, or at police request due to suspicious neighborhood activity.
Shelter-in-place can last for minutes to hours. If a shelter-in-place goes beyond 30 minutes, the school system will notify parents by email of the situation. Another email, and possibly a phone call, will follow when authorities lift the shelter-in-place or if new information becomes available.
This is a good time to check the emergency contact information you have on file with your child’s school. The school district notification system uses the latest information provided by parents to contact them during a shelter-in-place. The CCPS Communications Department will also use social media — Facebook and Twitter — to provide information.
We know for many parents that the first instinct is to rush to the school to check on your child. However, during a shelter-in-place, school staff will not open its doors to anyone, even if they know you. This action is to keep your child safe. Please do not come to the school or call the school, as the phone lines need to be open for police or other authorities to communicate with school administrators.
A lockdown is when there is a threat or potential threat to student or staff safety. Threats can come from outside or inside the building and could include a violent person trying to get into the school or who is already in the school, or nearby criminal activity.
When a school goes into lockdown, staff calls 9-1-1 and an announcement is made that there is an emergency requiring all areas of the building to be secured. Students and staff are confined to the classroom or staff directs students to the closest classroom as quickly as possible. All classroom doors, as well as all exterior doors, are closed and locked, and students and staff barricade themselves in a locked room.
In the event of an extended lockdown, parents can expect a message from the school district’s telephone notification system, School Messenger. Initial information will be preliminary. The school district will update parents when it receives new information from authorities. CCPS will follow up with a phone call, email and text when the lockdown is lifted, and with information as to where they can be reunited with their children. In a non-critical situation, CCPS will send an email.
In a critical situation, CCPS will call, email and text parents. Please remember to check your child’s emergency contact information and make any necessary changes with the school. The numbers provided are the ones CCPS uses to contact parents in an emergency. Additionally, the school system posts emergency information on Facebook and @CCPS on Twitter.
CCPS strongly encourages parents not to come to the school due to the potential risks and the additional safety hazards it creates for emergency personnel. Parents should only attempt to come to the school once the lockdown has been lifted and when the school has instructed parents to pick up their child(ren). If a lockdown is due to a community event, the threat is eliminated once police activity is suspended. In these instances, normal school schedules would resume and students would remain in school.
In most cases, parents will be directed to a central meeting place where they can be reunited with their children. Parents should remember to bring your license, cell phone and keys. Staff will require identification for you to pick up your child.
Each school has a designated, offsite transfer location, usually within walking distance as well as a secondary site that may require transportation. Following an emergency, it is likely students will be at one of these sites. Please contact your child’s school to learn its designated transfer locations.
Additionally, please do not call the school. Staff is unable to answer if the school is in a lockdown.
The CCSO School Resource Unit assigns one officer to every high school and middle school in Charles County as part of an agreement with Charles County Public Schools (CCPS). The officers work closely with the administrative staff and teachers to enhance school safety and address security matters. The officers also develop rapports with students and present programs in class that encourage good decision making, build self-esteem, and teach students to be positive role models in the community. In the event of a disturbance at the school, the officers are able to quickly intervene. In addition to fulfilling their responsibilities at their respective high school or middle school, School Resource Unit officers also work with elementary schools to address security matters and present student programs.
The programs School Resource Unit officers present to CCPS students include Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) and Truth and Consequences. They help coordinate We Care, a program that has reduced teen traffic fatalities by using innovative methods to encourage young motorists to drive safely. Each summer, the officers also host a three-on-three basketball tournament, Badges for Baseball, a Just Say No camp and the Summer Youth Program. The School Resource Unit also operates a Student Crime Solvers program, which offers students an opportunity to receive reward money when the students anonymously submit information about crimes in schools.
Weather presents challenges both during and after the school day. The school system monitors the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio tone-alert system. Charles County’s location makes it susceptible to hurricanes, tornados, flooding and more. The main goal in making weather-related decisions is student and staff safety.
Students practice regularly for different types of severe weather conditions.If weather conditions pose a potential hazard to students, school officials may dismiss students early, delay the opening of schools or close schools for the day. If conditions require the closing or delayed opening of schools, decisions are usually made by 5 a.m. A delayed opening permits buses to operate under safer conditions after traffic has diminished and roads are salted and/or cleared. Buses run routes one or two hours later than scheduled.
If there is a one-hour delayed opening, morning prekindergarten classes start one hour late. If schools open two hours late, morning prekindergarten classes are canceled. If it is necessary to close schools during the day, CCPS attempts to make an announcement by 10:30 a.m. Morning prekindergarten students will remain at school, be served a lunch (cost to be reimbursed by parents) and will ride the bus or walk home at the scheduled dismissal time.
Afternoon and evening meetings and activities are canceled if schools close early, or are closed for the day. If hazardous weather is predicted for later in the evening, afternoon activities may be allowed and evening activities may be canceled. Afternoon activities are those that end by 6 p.m. Evening activities begin at 6 p.m. or later.
Once notified of a closing or delay decision, the Communications Department works to notify the school community immediately. In addition to contacting local media, information is sent via email to parents with email addresses on file with CCPS, text messages for anyone who has opted in for the service, Facebook, Twitter, the 24-hour information line, the Charles County Public Schools website, and the Citizens Notification System (CNS).
Decisions are made by 5 a.m.; however, depending on the circumstances, decisions could be made earlier or changed later in the day. No notification is made if schools are operating on a normal schedule. There is a daily operating status in the upper right-hand corner of the website.
Drills and education
All students participate in drills throughout the school year including fire, evacuation, reverse evacuation, severe weather (drop, cover and hold), lockdown, shelter-in-place and special needs.
Accidents and emergencies are unpredictable, but CCPS trains its employees to respond calmly and immediately. Staff responds to a medical emergency involving staff or students by evaluating the situation to determine what assistance is needed. Students are kept away from the area.
Each school has a school nurse who assists when needed and will begin first aid until paramedics arrive. If the emergency involves a student, a staff member gathers the student information, and someone remains with the student even if they are taken to the hospital.
If your child is injured at school, the school administration will notify you. Staff will provide you with the type of illness and or injury as well as the medical care being administered. A staff member will accompany your child to any medical facility and wait until you or another emergency contact arrives before leaving.Please make sure your emergency contact information on file with your child’s school is up-to-date and that you have designated someone nearby to assist until you are able to join your child.
Crime Solvers allows residents to anonymously report information about crimes. Crime Solvers is community based and pays cash rewards for tips that lead to arrests and help solve crimes.
Students in every Charles County middle and high school can anonymously report crimes through a Student Crime Solvers program. Started in 2007, Student Crime Solvers allows students to keep their schools safe by anonymously reporting crimes or school violations. Like Crime Solvers, students can earn cash rewards for tips. The Board of Education endorses the program, which has helped solve hundreds of cases and paid students thousands in rewards.
Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) uses ScholarChip, a visitor management system that allows us to know who is in our schools. The system uses automated driver’s license scanning and has comprehensive, up-to-date sex offender information. The system helps schools better register visitors while maintaining a history of anyone who has checked-in or checked-out of the building.
Additionally, all visitors are required to show a photo identification prior to entering the building. This includes CCPS staff, who must show their employee photo identification badge. School staff also may ask the nature of the school visit prior to allowing a visitor to enter the building. Please be patient with school staff as they have been asked to verify the identity of all visitors. Visitor management is an extension of the school system’s work to secure the entrance to our schools.
CCPS Safety in Schools, a letter from Dr. Hill on 2/22/18