Policy EBC: Safe Schools

1. Purpose

The Amherst-Pelham School District has an obligation to provide school facilities and administrative procedures that help to protect the health and safety of students and staff in the event of an emergency or disaster situation.  The potential for emergency situations requires planning and preparation, so that the actions initiated are appropriate, timely, responsive, coordinated and are communicated to and understood by staff, students, their parents, and other affected members of the community.

2. Definition

An emergency is a situation requiring evacuation and/or closure of schools or cancellation/delay of transportation due to fire, inclement weather, bomb threats, explosives, chemical spills, dangerous weapons or other building plant problems, etc.

3. Plans/Guidelines

It is the policy of the Amherst-Pelham School District that each school have clear, comprehensive emergency plans and guidelines appropriate to the school and be prepared to act accordingly. Individual school plans should concern actions to be taken in case of evacuation (drill or actual), inclement weather, fire, building plant emergency, bomb threats, chemical spills, etc. Plans should allow for the school’s uniqueness, but also meet the need for the school to act in concert with this policy and any associated guidelines. School plans should incorporate safety of students and staff, parent communication, building security, and means for alternative accommodations. Staff, students and parents should be made aware of plans for their school.

4. School Responsibilities

Every building principal will appoint an emergency team who will establish response guidelines that shall be followed in the event of emergency situations. Guidelines shall be reviewed annually by the Team and shall address the following:
a. Development of a high level of understanding concerning security and safety by all staff members, as appropriate.
b. Procedures for events such as fire, building collapse, bomb threat, power outage, security breach (trespassers, intruders), and community disaster events.
c. The conduct of emergency evacuation drills, as appropriate, in concert with local agencies, detailing the procedures referred to in subparagraph b. above.
d. Annual dissemination of written guidelines to staff, including substitute and temporary staff.
e. Notification to parents/guardians of procedures to be followed in the event of emergency school closure, including a copy of the school’s plans for meeting emergency situations. Each plan should address conditions that are likely to occur when students are awaiting parent pickup or school personnel are unable to notify families in accordance with provisions on emergency notification cards.
f. Provisions for the evacuation of special needs students.
g. Training for all staff in handling emergency situations.
h. Provisions for communication with students and parents as fully as possible, and as soon as possible about the nature of an emergency and the actions taken in response to it.

5. District Responsibilities

a. The Superintendent is empowered to close any or all schools, delay the start of schools or dismiss schools early in case of severe weather or other emergencies which threaten the safety or welfare of students and staff.
b. In the event a decision is made to close, delay, or dismiss the schools, the superintendent is responsible for communicating this decision to building principals and to parents via local area radio stations and other media outlets. A list of the outlets will be provided to school principals at the beginning of the school year and should be included in parent and staff handbooks.
c. The superintendent will publish district guidelines, in the form of a School Safety Manual, for preparing for and responding to threats to the safety and security of students and staff.

6. Parent Responsibilities

a. Parents are expected to provide the school with information about how they can be reached in case of an emergency and about alternative homes to which students can be taken when parents are not reachable.

7. Communication

a. In addition to information provided by principals to students and parents, the Superintendent will ordinarily make information about emergency closings available to the public through the district newsline, district website and the media.
b. The Superintendent will notify the School Committee Chair, who will notify other Committee members.

LEGAL REF:

MGL 71:55C and Acts of 1985c 614 Sec 1
Board of Education 603 CMR 36:00

Region Voted to Approve: 10/12/99
Amherst Voted to Approve:
Pelham Voted to Approve:
Effective Date: 10/12/99
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