MCPS Answers Frequently Asked Security Questions

by MCS Staff

“Preparing for emergency situations often raises questions and concerns. All schools are engaging in updated safety and security protocol training.” MCPS has developed a list of Frequently Asked Questions to provide information and reassure families. The questions and answers can be seen below:

What is a shelter-in-place? A shelter-in-place is an emergency response when there is danger in the school community or near school property. It provides heightened awareness by staff of what is occurring on or in the area around the school. If the danger or threat to the school becomes imminent, the shelter-in-place prepares the school to move quickly to a lockdown. A shelter-in-place may also be utilized to hold students in their classrooms to address a medical emergency or safety situation, or in response to a biological, chemical, or radiological incident.

What actions do we take during a shelter-in-place?

  • Staff lock and monitor all exterior doors.
  • Classroom instruction continues.
  • Staff take attendance and account for any discrepancies.
  • Hallway passes or movement in hallways is limited.
  • Students will not transition to classes, but will remain in their current classroom until the shelter-in-place is lifted.
  • Administration will make announcements to provide safety information as needed.

What actions do staff take during a shelter-in-place?

  • Staff lock and monitor all exterior doors.
  • Classroom instruction continues.
  • Staff take attendance and account for any discrepancies.
  • Hallway passes or movement in hallways is limited.
  • Students will not transition to classes, but will remain in their current classroom until the shelter-in-place is lifted.
  • Administration will make announcements to provide safety information as needed.

What actions do students take during a shelter-in-place?

  • Students will continue with classroom instruction.
  • Students will not transition to classes, but will remain in their current classroom until the shelter-in-place is lifted.

What is a lockdown? A lockdown is an emergency response to a life-threatening imminent danger in or around school grounds. Exterior doors and interior classroom doors and offices are immediately locked and secured.

What actions do staff take during a lockdown?

  • Sweep or scan the immediate area outside the classroom, if safe and practicable to do so, for any students and staff, and immediately bring them into their classroom.
  • Staff inside the building but outside a classroom or office should go to the nearest securable location.
  • Staff outside the building should go to a pre-determined safe location (identified in the school emergency plan) away from the building.
  • Instruct students to move to the safest corner of the room away from doors and windows.
  • Lock and secure doors.
  • Cover door windows and close blinds.
  • Turn off lights.
  • Silence all electronic devices.
  • Utilize Chromebook/laptop for attendance and communication purposes, if safe and practicable to do so.
  • Ignore alarms and bells.
  • Wait for further instructions.

What actions do students take during a lockdown?

  • Move to the safest corner of the room as identified by the teacher, away from doors and windows.
  • When inside the building but outside a classroom or office when a lockdown is called, students and staff should move into the nearest securable location.
  • Students outside the building should follow the direction of staff and move to a pre-determined safe location.
  • Silence all electronic devices.
  • Follow the directions of the teacher or staff member.
  • Remain silent and await further directions.

As a parent/guardian, what can I do to support student safety during a lockdown?

  • Keep emergency contact information updated in Synergy so that we can keep you informed.
  • Have ongoing conversations with your child regarding school safety and emergency preparedness.
  • Encourage your child to take drills seriously and ask staff any questions that will help them be well prepared.
  • Understand that law enforcement and/or emergency responders will arrive onsite and take command of emergency situations.
  • Stay calm and reassuring during any communications with your child during an emergency situation.
  • Encourage your child to follow the directions of school staff in order to prevent confusion or added safety risks.
  • Should school officials request parents to pick up their children, please have identification with you so that your child can be released to your custody.

How and when will I receive communication during a lockdown?

  • You will receive information as soon as possible after the initiation of a lockdown.
  • Our goal is to communicate within 20 minutes, with updates as frequently as possible.
  • This initial information will be shared utilizing the ConnectEd system via phone call, text message, and email.

How will I receive communication after a lockdown?

  • You will receive a follow-up communication providing detailed information regarding the emergency and resources available to students/parents.
  • We recognize the importance of two-way communication. Please know that if you or your child has serious concerns in response to an emergency or crisis, contact your child’s school directly for information and guidance.

What types of support will be available to my child following emergency situations that may potentially impact their well-being?

  • Specialists in mental health, specifically recognizing and addressing trauma, will partner with the school administration to provide the appropriate services.
  • Students will have full access to their counselor to support their social emotional well-being.
  • We will continue to provide communication to the community as we verify information.
  • Teachers will demonstrate flexibility with academic assignments such as tests/quizzes.
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