There are many responders in a school emergency, including police, fire and medical, teachers, staff and parents. While parents aren't on site during a school emergency, here is information that can make you a powerful partner in protecting the safety and wellbeing of our students and staff.
Possible responses to a crisis situation
Response plans are one important tool that we use at Eudora Schools to protect the safety and security of our students and employees during an emergency. There are two types of lockdowns that we use, as well as a procedure known as Run-Hide-Fight, depending on the emergency:
- Low-level lockdowns are when all exterior doors are locked and outdoor activities are avoided as much as possible. Efforts are made to maintain a regular schedule and routine for students during a low-level lockdown. This may be used in a wide variety of circumstances, including a medical emergency with a student or employee.
- High-level lockdowns require all doors inside and outside the building to be locked and for students and staff to remain in their classrooms and offices. There is no movement in the halls or between rooms during a high-level lockdown. This is used if there is a serious threat near the school, but not directly on school grounds.
- Run-Hide-Fight is a national active-shooter response protocol designed to minimize the number of victims when someone is shooting a gun in a district school or office building. If Run-Hide-Fight is used, students and employees will run away from the threat, if it is safe, or hide from the threat if it is not safe to run. Students practice both of these in crisis drills. Fight, which is the third option -- and last resort -- is practiced by employees and occasionally discussed with students.
Responding to a lockdown
Parents are important partners in our efforts to keep students safe during and after a lockdown. Getting the news that your child’s school has gone into lockdown can be a scary or stressful experience for any parent. Here are things that you can do to help keep your student safe during a lockdown:
- Remain calm and wait for information from the school or district. We will text, e-mail, and/or call you as soon and often as we have information to share.
- Stay away from the school or emergency site. Emergency responders and school district employees will need to focus on the needs of students and staff. Phone calls and office arrivals can make this very difficult.
- Avoid calling the school or district office for more information. We will share information and updates with parents as quickly as we are able. Calling us with questions can often make this take longer.
- Trust us to keep your child safe, just like you do on a regular day. This can be really hard if you are emotional or feeling a sense of panic. But picking up your child during a crisis can send a message to children that school is not a safe place, which interferes with learning on other, regular days. It is especially important to keep yourself safe by staying away from the emergency scene.
- Remember that our teachers and staff members are trained to respond to emergencies in a way that protects the well being of every student in their care. Our most important goal, every day, is to keep your student safe. This is especially true during an emergency.
Talking to your child
When you talk to your child after an emergency, your questions, comments and tone will make a big difference. Consider the following steps to help your child process:
- Ask your child what they know about the emergency. You may find that they know very little and are not trying to find out more. That’s okay!
- Ask what your child’s teacher did to keep everyone safe. Maybe it’s locking doors, turning off lights, being quiet. Most importantly it focuses the conversation on the actions that adults took to keep them safe.
- Talk about the “helpers” who kept everyone safe. These may be the teachers and staff, emergency responders or others. Talk about how brave these people are in their work to keep others safe.
- Ask how your child felt during the emergency, and acknowledge that it’s okay to feel that way (scared, nervous, anxious, etc.). Ask how he or she is feeling now, and acknowledge that it’s okay to feel that way, too.
- Watch for any lingering signs of stress over the following days and weeks. Anxiety about school, lack of appetite, difficulty sleeping, or any behavior that is out of the ordinary – these may mean that your child still needs help healing from the trauma of the crisis. We can help.
After a school emergency, keep in mind that your child may or may not know a lot about what happened during the lockdown. Follow your child’s lead about the information he or she knows or wants, and contact the school if your child would benefit from the support of a counselor or WRAP worker as they process their feelings and fears.
Crisis events outside our schools
There are crisis events that happen in another part of town, in another community, or even outside of Kansas or the United States. Whether it's a school shooting, natural disaster or other major event, these tragedies can have a profound effect on children, teenagers and their families. Parents play a critical role in helping children and teenagers to process these traumatic events in a way that is healthy and productive. Here are some valuable resources to help your child deal with trauma, including tragedies that are being reported in the news.
Need more help?
There are times when children, teenagers and/or their families may need more support or help processing a traumatic event. Our schools have people who are ready to help. Contact your child's school office to learn what resources or services are available.