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School Lockdown Procedures

One type of emergency that schools may face is a threat posed by an intruder or emergency situation outside the school that prevents the evacuation of students from the building. In these situations, schools should be prepared to take steps to isolate students, faculty and staff from danger by instituting a school lockdown.

A school lockdown can serve several functions during an emergency, including the following:

  • Removing students and faculty from the threat;
  • Isolating the dangerous situation from much of the school;
  • Allowing for an accurate accounting of students within each room; and
  • Depending on the situation, facilitating an organized evacuation away from the dangerous area.

In general, there are two main lockdown situations:

  1. Lockdown with warning: The threat is outside the school building.
  2. Lockdown with intruder: The threat or intruder is inside the school building.

1. Suggested Lockdown with Warning Procedures

The following procedures should be followed when the threat is outside of the school building:

  • Building administrator orders and announces “lockdown with warning.” Be direct. DO NOT USE CODES. This announcement should be repeated several times.
  • Important:
    • Special attention should be paid to classes that are outside of the school building, such as playgrounds and ball fields.
    • Teachers must be able to hear the lockdown announcement.
    • An alternate lockdown location must be identified. This location can be indoors or outdoors (if students can be safely hidden).
  • Lock exterior doors.
  • Clear hallways, restrooms, and other rooms that cannot be secured.
  • Secure and cover classroom windows.
  • Move all persons away from the windows.
  • Take attendance of students in each classroom.
    • Teachers should prepare a list of missing and extra students in the room.
    • Teachers should take this list with them once they are directed to leave the classroom.
  • Control all movement, but continue classes. Disable bells. Move on announcement only.
  • Once the threat has subsided, the building administrator announces “all clear.”

2. Suggested Lockdown with Intruder Procedures

The following procedures should be followed when the threat or intruder is inside of the school building:

  • Building administrator orders and announces “lockdown with intruder.” Be direct. DO NOT USE CODES. This announcement should be repeated several times.
  • Immediately direct all students, staff, and visitors into the nearest classroom or secured space.
  • Classes that are outside of the building SHOULD NOT enter the building.
  • Move outside classes to the primary evacuation site.
  • Lock classroom doors.
  • DO NOT lock exterior doors.
  • Move people away from the windows and doors. Keep all students sitting on the floor, and turn off the lights.
  • Take attendance of students in each classroom.
    • Teachers should prepare a list of missing and extra students in the room.
    • Teachers should prepare to take this list with them once they are directed to leave the classroom.
  • DO NOT respond to anyone at the door until “all clear” is announced.
  • Keep out of sight.
  • Be prepared to ignore any fire alarm activation, as the school will not be evacuated using this method.
  • When or if students are moved out of the classroom, assist them in moving as quietly and quickly as possible.
  • When the threat is over/the intruder has left the building, the building administrator announces “all clear.”

Special Considerations

Suggested Lockdown Prior to School Starting Procedures

  • Staff gathers all students in the hallways into their classrooms or other rooms.
  • Preschool activities leaders gather students and report attendance.
  • Administration and custodial staff check the hallways and exterior of the building.
  • Administration posts an individual at the drop-off location, alerting parents and children.
  • Staff takes attendance of students in their room.
  • At “all clear,” students report to their homeroom or first class to take attendance.

Suggested Lockdown During Passing Periods Procedures

  • Staff gathers all students in the hallways into their classrooms or other rooms.
  • Administration and custodial staff check the hallways and exterior of the building.
  • Staff takes attendance of students in their room.
  • At “all clear,” students report to homeroom or next class in order to obtain 100 percent attendance.

Suggested Lockdown During After School Activities Procedures

  • Event leaders gather students and take attendance.
  • Administration or custodial staff checks the hallways and other rooms.

Note: Please note that some threats, such as a confirmed fire or intruder within a classroom, may override lockdown procedures. Also, lockdowns may be initiated in non-threatening circumstances to keep people away from areas where there may be a medical emergency or other disturbance.

Crisis Preparedness Websites

It is strongly recommended that you contact your local law enforcement and state emergency management agencies for assistance in developing a comprehensive crisis preparedness program for your school. For additional information on crisis preparedness for schools, please visit the following websites:

Free Resources-National School Safety Center

Practical Information on Crisis Planning: A Complete Guide for Schools and Communities-U. S. Department of Education.

Preparing Your School for a Crisis-U. S. Department of Education.

Sources

Crisis Management Workbook. (n.d.). Office of Security and Risk Management Services, Fairfax County (VA) Public Schools.

Emergency Planning and Procedures Guide for Schools. (August 2005). Minnesota Department of Public Safety. Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Iowa School Safety Guide. (2012). Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

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© 2018 The GuideOne Center for Risk Management, LLC. All rights reserved.This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to give specific legal or risk management advice, nor are any suggested checklists or action plans intended to include or address all possible risk management exposures or solutions. You are encouraged to retain your own expert consultants and legal advisors in order to develop a risk management plan specific to your own activities.