February 7, 2019
Subject: Emergency lockdown procedures and practice drills
The safety of students and staff is a top priority in the North Vancouver School District. We practice various drills throughout the year to ensure that students and staff are well-prepared in case of emergency. On March 6, 2019 at 11 a.m., we will practice lockdown drills at all of our schools. We recognize that the word “lockdown” can cause unease, and raise questions and concerns. Below, please find information to further explain what a “lockdown drill” means and our procedures for addressing this scenario, however unlikely, in our schools.
In an actual lockdown scenario, it can be intensely stressful for everyone involved. One of the most common reactions in parents/guardians is to try to reach their child by cellphone. However, as explained below, cellphone communication can put individuals who find themselves in a lockdown situation at greater risk. For this reason, we ask all parents/guardians for their cooperation in respecting the law enforcement directive of prohibiting the use of cellphones by staff and students during a lockdown.
In the North Vancouver School District, we recognize our responsibility towards the safety of students and staff on our premises at all times. While the incidence of threatening behaviours in our schools is very, very low, we hope you will find this knowledge of our lockdown procedures reassuring. Please do not hesitate to discuss this information with your school principal or contact me directly with any questions you may have.
Please note: Some schools cannot host their lockdown drills on March 6, 2019 because of conflicts, such as fields trips. Those schools will communicate the new date for their lockdown drill to their school communities.
Safe and Caring Schools
What is a “school lockdown”?
A lockdown is an emergency procedure designed to protect occupants from external threat, or to contain the movement of occupants when an intruder is present in a building. In a school lockdown, only emergency response teams from law enforcement will enter the school. A “lockdown” means that people must stay where they are and cannot leave until escorted outside by response personnel.
Are there different procedures depending on the situation?
Yes. There are three different distinctions of “lockdown” that direct how a situation will be
Level 1 – The danger is present inside the school.
Level 2 – The threat is close to, but not inside the building.
Level 3 – The risk is in the surrounding area.
How are school staff prepared to handle a lockdown situation?
School-based staff receive training on how to recognize and respond to all three
Why do children have to practice a lockdown drill? Isn’t that creating a stressful situation?
Particularly in emergency situations, we are all more confident, less anxious and better able to cope when we know there is a plan in place. An essential part of lockdown drills in our schools is for staff to lead conversations about the experience afterwards to reassure students and help them develop new coping and self-calming techniques for the future.
May I communicate with my child during a lockdown?
It is expected that many parents/guardians will feel an urgent need to contact their child in a lockdown situation. However, any sound from a cellphone can alert an intruder to the presence of an individual or group, placing them and everyone in their vicinity at greater risk. For this reason, students and staff are not permitted to use cellphones during a lockdown situation.
Communications both in and out of a school under lockdown are restricted to law enforcement personnel and their designates - including school principals and school district senior administrators.
During a school lockdown, where can I go for more information?
Recognizing that telephone reception could quickly become overwhelmed by a high volume of calls in a lockdown situation, the School District will update its website as information is released to us through the RCMP.