The Focus Areas
During our thirty-minute webinar, we identified and picked out the three most discussed and queried points from the Ministry of Education’s report. Ensuring that stakeholders are aware and confident on what these are is important for progression.
People welfare & human considerations
Ensure that your staff and students are unseen, and unheard. Consider a method of activating people very quickly without causing stress and minimising disruption. Think about predetermined requirements like medication and who will oversee this for which students. Be prepared for social media to play a part in an event and use it to your advantage. Educate all personnel on expectations in an event.
The Logistics of a Lockdown
Identify where you get key facts from to help to determine where and how you make your next decision. Predetermine where you get that source of information. Identify where and what the threat is. Lockdown; unseen or unheard. Shelter in place; not an immediate threat, but containment is required. Distinguish the definitions and make the different processes obvious to all involved.
Immediate Actions & Procedures
Look at what you already have in place and identify where to make improvements. Identify gaps in your capability and build up experience in these areas by validating decisions made by staff during training. Instil a culture of resilience through staff, students and parents. Trust your training and review during a scenario and an event.
Download our Resource
Off the back of the webinar, we would like to offer you an opportunity to download some useful documents that will help in your resilience journey. These documents cover a detailed Shelter in Place and lockdown procedure that covers a useful checklist, the other is an emergency procedure for staff to hang somewhere in their office; this is often a good, quick reminder on best practices. Finally, we’ve also added a post incident template which you can use now to see how you did on March 15th.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. We supply two of them for organisations across the world. The first is Activate which is an Emergency App and dashboard to help your wardens and team to communicate and notify of an event. This is a simple but effective communications tool to help people receive detailed information within seconds on what to do and where to go. The next is CQCommand, a crisis tool dedicated to understanding the overview of the event. You can collaborate and communicate in unmatched timing while building very concise reports on your event and people. Alternatively, setting up solid groups or chat functions via WhatsApp or Messenger can help, but always make sure you practice this.
Student welfare during a lockdown is priority. Extended disruption from lack of food, water and amenities can cause trauma. We are also now seeing staff welfare after an event becoming a concern to principals. It’s important you set up support networks now to prepare for this. Like a flight attendant, if students see worried staff, they will worry too. Keep you people confident that the plane is reliable and safe. Ensure that weeks and months after a lockdown, you are communicating with parents. Don’t shy away from it, approach it head on and give parents detailed feedback on what you did, and what you’re going to do. This significantly builds credibility and trust for when another event occurs. Ask yourself, “how long can we be outside of Business As Usual until major effects occur?”
The chief warden will have responsibility to manage the lockdown, with advice from the Police if possible. The Critical Incident Management Team or Management Team should be notified so they can activate their incident management processes, which will include information gathering, liaising with emergency services (if the chief warden cannot do this), developing and activating their communications plans. Depending on the size of your school, this team can be any size, as long as they’re well trained and confident in the processes.
Absolutely. It’s important to remember that most of these people won’t know your processes when you do, so communicate this as best as possible.
What are the biggest challenges we have seen school face in both developing and enacting lockdown processes?
Finding the time in busy curriculum rosters to educate staff is usually the number one issue.
Training up the casual or part time staff, after school staff, weekend staff to include them in process only adds to this tough scheduling. The newer the schools, the more glass and open spaces they have. Finding the right lockdown locations is becoming harder than ever. We sometimes see the inability to lock a campus down given the open nature of it (lack of gates and fences. Then, the bigger the campus, the harder it is to communicate. We also know that drills are important, but often do not involve parents as well as adequate and realistic timings. Another concern that has arisen out of March 15th in Christchurch, is that when a lockdown finishes, there is plenty more work to be done. Trauma and parent concerns add more difficult conversations while stakeholders demand more proof of your preparedness. Media can get involved, not to mention auditing and regulations. The way around most of this is to practice is NOW. Dedicate resource and time to solely focus on this and then meet to discuss, tweak and practice at least every 6 months. Plan, do, check and act.
It’s important to ensure everyone is safe, and all students accounted for. When the lockdown has been lifted, it is recommended schools evacuate all persons to a central location. The evacuation processes can be instigated at this point, with all students roll called, and buildings swept by wardens to ensure there are no injuries, and to ensure all persons are evacuated and aware the lockdown has been lifted. This is important as there may be children hiding in small areas and may not have heard the announcement stating, “lockdown over”. This also allows for a briefing on completion of lockdown, and process for parent pick up, if necessary. Prepare for trauma counselling and an influx of questions and concerns from parents. How you handle this will be testament to how you get through a lockdown.
Given there may be staff and students moving / travelling between campuses, it would be ideal to alert staff at other campuses so they are aware of the situation. They can ensure the message provided to stakeholders is consistent with the approved message, remain away from the campus, and be on standby to assist the affected campus(es) when the lockdown has been lifted.
Many schools running drill will typically sound an alarm. This often is the only way to notify students (especially younger ones on campus). Ideally, you want a messaging system (SMS) to send out to all staff and students. PA system you can talk through are useful as well, but try to avoid using tones. If these are seldom used, people often confuse them for evacuation tones and leave the campus.
Strong data came out of the Ministry’s report that indicated some problem areas around medication, food and toiletry requirements. But these are not your most important hurdles. Having a way to communicate with those on and off campus is vital. This includes remote teachers or students, parents, emergency services. You need confidence this will all work as planned. You need a clear process for pick up and parent management. Have access (in every classroom where possible) to non-perishable food and drinks. Also, have a backup location where time and situation allow to comfortable house your people. Remember, toiletries are a nice to have, but they are not critical in a lockdown. Focus on communication and where you’ll get facts and assumptions from first.
Identify where you get key facts from? Pre-established processes help determine next steps with confidence as they come in. Identify where and what the threat is, which will help determine what process to go into. A lockdown is a strict process of being unseen and unheard. Typically, sounding alarms across campus is the opposite of this if you know the threat is close.
Shelter in place is usually where persons can move to a safe area but can move within that area. For example, bushfires, or where threat is away from immediate area.
This should be practiced and communicated prior, but assigning a dedicated and permitted point/area for the parents to wait can be a way around this. Ensure it’s far enough away from your students lockdown area (to ease stress and attention). This area may also be the same area they pick their children up from. This ensure that the parents can stay in the same place the whole event. Ensure that you’re confident and sure parents will not break your lockdown as this will compromise the staff and students.
What are the legal rights to parents coming onto the property during a lockdown and taking their children?
First and foremost, the school lockdown processes are implemented to ensure staff and students are safe. Allowing parents on campus will break this and place staff, students and the parents at risk. Parents should be informed on schools lockdown process and what they should follow. Ongoing, concise communications direct to parents will help ease the tension (especially around the process of picking up). Ultimately, you can not legally hold any person against theirs or a legal caregivers will.
The objective is to be unseen and unheard. There are no set answers as every school is different. However, if the majority of people are in one room where blinds down causes a consistent look, then lean towards this. Remember, if only a few rooms are occupied in a school, closing the blinds may indicate that that’s the building with everyone in. The key is to decide on a process, practice it with staff and ensure students are aware too.
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