The safety and well-being of students and staff is our highest priority.
In partnership with the Halton Region Police Service, the Halton District School Board has established emergency response plans to ensure student and staff safety at our schools. These plans are in place at all four school boards in Halton and the E.C. Drury School for the Deaf and include the steps students and staff will take in the event of an emergency at a school, a parent/guardian communication plan and an evacuation plan.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below are responses to the most frequently asked questions with regard to emergency preparedness in schools
In the event of an emergency impacting my child's school, how would I be informed?
Messages about emergencies impacting your child's school will be communicated by the HDSB using a number of communications vehicles, including, but not limited to:
- email to parents/guardians through SchoolMessenger
- the Halton Region Police Services website and/or social media
- the HDSB and/or school websites and social media
All emergency messages, including early and late school openings and closings, lockdowns, hold and secures, shelter-in-place and threats to school safety will be communicated to families through SchoolMessenger as quickly as possible. During an emergency, parents/guardians should refrain from calling the school as it overloads phone lines, which limits communication and may impede the ability of staff to respond to the situation at hand.
How will my child's school handle an emergency situation?
All of the Board's schools and facilities have an emergency response plan. A school's emergency response plan is based on established Board procedures, created in partnership with the Halton Region Police Service. The specifics of each plan differ according to the unique circumstances for each location, and are outlined on the Emergency Response Plan posters displayed throughout the school. Students and staff are encouraged to review the emergency response plan for their school.
A school’s response to a situation will differ based on the specifics of that situation. The flexibility of the plan is key to the success of the response. In general, each school's emergency response plan includes:
- threats to school safety (e.g., lockdown, bomb threat, hold and secure) and evacuation procedures, including the designation of one or more appropriate evacuation sites
- training for personnel, updating of the plan and a practice drill for students and staff for a variety of these procedures (e.g., lockdown, hold and secure, bomb threats)
- the maintenance of checklists for dealing with specific types of incidents
- resources for help before, during and after an emergency/crisis
- an established Safe Schools Action Team
What is a “Hold and Secure"?
Hold and Secure is a response to an emergency situation in the general vicinity of a school, but not on or very near to school property. This could be a police pursuit, a crime in progress or an active search by local police for a suspect. During a Hold and Secure situation, students, staff and visitors are considered to be safe inside the school building. Any students, staff and visitors participating in activities outside the school building when a Hold and Secure is announced, will be instructed to return to the school building immediately. No one is permitted to enter or exit the school building once this has occurred. In a Hold and Secure situation, regular school activities proceed within the school building, as long as it is safe to do so.
What is a “Lockdown"?
A Lockdown is a response to an emergency situation inside a school or an emergency situation on or very near to school property, wherein the evacuation of the school building is not safe. During a Lockdown, steps are taken to isolate students, staff and visitors from the emergency situation by having everyone remain in designated locations inside the school building. In all Lockdown situations, school staff establish communication with the Police by calling 911.
Much the same way as schools practice fire drills, Lockdown or Hold and Secure drills are also practiced in an age appropriate manner. As part of the Board's School/Police Protocol and in accordance with the Education Act, Lockdown drills are practiced twice throughout the school year to ensure that students and staff know what steps to take in case of an emergency.
During a Lockdown, students are not permitted to use electronic devices, such as cellular phones except to convey emergency information through 911, as their use may impede the ability of the police and school staff to respond to the situation at hand. It may also result in the dissemination of inaccurate information. In the event of an emergency at your child's school, the Board will inform parents by using a number of communications vehicles, including, but not limited to:
- the Board and/or school websites;
- the Halton Region Police Services website;
- the parent/home notification system (e.g., e-mail and/or telephone messages)
What will the Board do if an emergency situation occurs while students are in school?
The specific actions taken by school personnel in any emergency situation, both Board-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 threat and the advice or directive of local, provincial, and federal agencies. The safety of students and staff members will be the primary concern in any decision
Will I be allowed to pick up my child?
In the event of an emergency, it is the Board's intent to ensure that students are safe inside their schools until there is no longer a threat to their safety. Although some parents/guardians may wish to pick their children up from school at that time, please be assured that the safety and security of our students is our top priority. Allowing anyone to enter or exit the building during an emergency situation could expose the students and staff inside the school to further danger. Parents/guardians will be informed and reunited with their children as soon as it is deemed safe to do so. Classes/instruction will not automatically be cancelled in emergency situations, because the school may be the safest place for children to be.
Does the school have a plan to reunite parents/guardians and children?
Yes. Each school has developed a plan for reuniting parents/guardians with their children after an emergency has occurred. Additionally, if public safety officials require a school building to be evacuated, students and staff will be safely directed to the designated evacuation site. Parents/guardians will be informed by the HDSB of this evacuation/reunification location by email through the SchoolMessenger system.
Will I be given the evacuation or parent/guardian reunification locations ahead of time?
Emergency Response Plan posters are displayed throughout the Board's schools and facilities, and include the designated evacuation sites for each school and facility. In the event that students are evacuated to a designated site, parents/guardians will be informed by the HDSB of the reunification location by email through the SchoolMessenger system.
What if my child is riding a school bus at the time of a crisis?
Halton Student Transportation Services (HSTS) will be in contact with the HDSB for instructions in the event a crisis occurs while students are in transport. Bus drivers will be given an alternate safe drop off location if necessary. The HDSB will inform parents/guardians of this location by email through the SchoolMessenger system.
Who can pick up my children?
Students will not be released to unauthorized individuals (i.e., those who do not have written parent authorization). Parents/guardians will complete the emergency contact information at the start of each school year. Parents/guardians are asked to ensure that all contact information, including emergency contact information, on file at the school is accurate and up to date at all times.
What about my child's medication?
If your child takes medication regularly, you should ensure that the school has an appropriate amount of additional medication on hand. Speak with your child's school principal for more information. In the event of a threat to school safety (e.g., Lockdown), Emergency Medical Services personnel will be notified of any specific medical needs.