The safety of schools is on everyone’s mind after a Dec. 11 incident with two youths brandishing a gun in the Tomken Road and Dundas Street East area of Mississauga and endangering three schools. Although the matter was handed over to the Peel Regional Police, schools still have their procedures for responding to danger.
The Peel District School Board provided insight on the measures they adopt to ensure the safety of staff and students during a potentially dangerous situation.
The “Hold and Secure” protocol requires school staff to lock all outside doors and windows to prevent anyone from entering or exiting the building. Local police work to capture any armed suspects reported to be in the vicinity. Classes inside the school continue as usual. If the protocol continues past dismissal time, police will direct the process of how and when students will be released to their parents.
“Shelter in Place” is applied in the face of extreme weather conditions. A potentially damaging situation like a storm or even a poisonous chemical in the surrounding environment requires all windows, doors and air vents to be sealed. Local police assist in evacuating the building if the situation does not clear up by the end of the day.
All activities, though carried out by the schools, are directed by local police. Parents can stay informed by subscribing to receive updates from their school’s website. Parents are also asked to refrain from calling their child’s cell phone. This only interferes with safety measures enforced by police to mitigate the situation.
The most intense protocol initiated in the school is “Lockdown,” when a potentially dangerous suspect is presumed to be inside. Students and staff in the building are directed and trained to go to the closest room, close and lock the door; lie down on the floor away from sight line of doors and windows; and remain on the floor and await further instruction.
Staff and students outside of the school building must move as far away from the complex as possible until signalled to re-enter. Police will also assist students in exiting the building at the end of the school day if the lockdown is still in effect.
As part of the school’s overall safety plan, rehearsals take place a minimum of two times during the school year.
For information, visit: www.peelschools.org
Photo credit: Daniel von Appen