Emergency Response Protocols

The following terms represent the different responses that may be initiated by a school during an emergency:


An On-Alert is an early warning procedure for staff and students that can be used when a situation has the potential of escalating into a more serious event, for example, a suspicious person or vehicle in the vicinity of the school or a severe weather or tornado watch. It may also be used as an advisory to inform staff of a situation affecting the broader community.

During an On-Alert,

  • doors remain in their current state (locked or unlocked);
  • classes continue as normal, and
  • outside activities may continue or may be canceled depending on the nature of the On-Alert.

Hold and Secure

A Hold and Secure is used when there is a threat OUTSIDE the school which can include events such as criminal activity or police pursuits.

During a Hold and Secure,

  • regular classes and activities inside the school continue to operate; however, as a safety precaution, all exterior doors and windows are locked;
  • students will not be released from the school until emergency responders say it is safe, and
  • no one, other than law enforcement, is permitted to enter or leave the building until the Hold and Secure is over.


A Lock-Down happens when there is an immediate threat to the school.

During a Lock-Down,

  • all interior doors are locked;
  • staff and students keep quiet and stay out of sight;
  • if staff and students are on a field trip, they will go to an alternate safe site instead of returning to the school;
  • students will not be released from the school until emergency responders say it is safe, and
  • no one, other than law enforcement, is permitted in or out of any area once it has been locked. 


A Shelter-in-Place is generally used during an environmental emergency, such as severe storms or chemical spills.

During a Shelter-in-Place,

  • students and staff retreat to safe zones to seek shelter. This includes having students or staff who are outdoors come back into the school; 
  • each school’s Emergency Response Plan identifies the safest location for its occupants and how to seal a room from hazardous conditions, and 
  • students will not be released or dismissed until the situation has been resolved.


An Evacuation requires all students and staff to leave the school and go to an alternate location. Examples of reasons for school Evacuation include fire, flood, a bomb threat or a gas leak.

During an Evacuation,

  • all staff, students and visitors immediately leave the building and proceed to the school's pre-determined meeting place;
  • everyone either stays at the meeting place or moves to an alternate safe site, and
  • staff, students and visitors return to the building only after emergency responders say it is safe to do so, and depending on the situation, parents may need to pick their children up at an alternate location. If this is the case, parents will be notified via the school's regular communication channels.


Under some circumstances it may be determined that it is best to dismiss students as expeditiously as possible. Should this be the case, school administration will follow the process to alert each student's emergency contact.