The safety and security of all Bellingham Public School students and staff is our highest priority.

What should parents and guardians do in the case of a school emergency?

An emergency is a sudden, unexpected, or dangerous situation that requires immediate action.

When parents or guardians hear of a situation at a school, their first reaction may be to rush to the school to pick up their child. Doing so can severely impede the access and assistance of first responder agencies aiding the school. In an emergency, the district will quickly communicate out to parents with updates on the situation and instructions for families. Please be sure your contact information is updated ad current via Skylert.

How do we train for emergencies at school?

We all share the responsibility of preparing our young people on how to react safely in an emergency. While the response to a situation depends on the potential impact it may have on the people or facilities involved, students and staff are trained in several core response measures that provide a basis for most any situation. The following response methods are practiced throughout the school year:

Lockdown

Doors Locked, Voices Off, Out of Sight

A Lockdown is initiated when there may be an immediate threat or hazard near or on the school campus. Students and staff are moved (or remain) in classrooms, sit away from sight line of the doors or windows, and doors and windows are locked and covered.  Classroom activities cease until the incident concludes.  The office will be closed and phones will not be answered.

Students:

  • Move away from sight
  • Maintain silence
  • Listen to directions from teacher or staff

Teachers:

  • Ensure all interior doors are locked
  • Cover windows, maintain silence
  • Ensure no movement inside & outside of buildings
  • Move away from sight
  • Secure ALL persons in a room (includes office staff and security personnel)
  • Take attendance and account for students

Lockout

A Lockout is initiated when there may be a danger outside of the buildings or off campus.  Students and staff are moved (or remain) in classrooms and perimeter doors remain locked, including the front office.  Classroom instruction continues as normal, and necessary movement can occur within a building. Law enforcement will typically notify administration when the All Clear can be given.

Students:

  • If outside, return to classroom
  • Listen to directions from teacher or staff

Teachers:

  • If outside, all students and staff return to classrooms
  • Increased situational awareness
  • Instruction as usual
  • Take attendance and account for students​

Evacuation

An Evacuation is initiated when there are conditions inside the school building that could be unsafe, such as no water, no electricity, or fire.  It might apply to the entire campus or to individual campus buildings.  Students and staff evacuate the buildings to an outside location and assemble at predetermined locations.  An off-site evacuation may be necessary depending on the incident. School district officials will coordinate bussing of students to an off-campus location. Information on student reunification will be sent out by the district automated phone, text, or email system.

Students:

  • Leave your belongings behind
  • Form a single file line while quietly evacuating
  • Listen to directions from teacher or staff
  • Be prepared for alternatives during response.

Teachers:

  • Take class roster sheet and emergency bucket
  • Lead students to designated assembly area
  • Take attendance and account for students​

Shelter in Place

Shelter in Place is initiated when students and staff need to be inside the building for safety, or protection from dangers or unsafe conditions outside of the building, such as hazardous material releases.  During Shelter in Place, students and staff may be moved to a central part of the building and air systems shut off if hazardous conditions are present outside. Necessary movement can occur within a building, but may be limited as needed.

Students:

  • If outside, return to classroom
  • Listen to directions from teacher or staff

Teachers:

  • If outside, all students and staff return to classrooms
  • Increased situational awareness
  • Instruction as usual
  • Take attendance and account for students​

How do Lockdown drills affect and impact my child?

  • Lockdown drills are required by Washington State laws.
  • When done right, crisis preparedness training can foster empowerment and control; when done poorly, they can also be ineffective and psychologically draining. Giving kids the proper tools to handle a situation can help them have a sense of agency and control of their fate, while not perpetuating a sense of victimization often portrayed in the media.
  • At Bellingham Public Schools, we’ve added LOCKOUT to our response protocols, which has a differentiated response than LOCKDOWN and is a proactive measure that is less intense. The additional response measures helps reduce stress when there’s a situation unfolding in the neighborhood that has no direct threat to the school.
  • We avoid full-scale, hands-on exercising with students (active role playing with responders running through halls, etc.). Law enforcement does tactical training in our school as needed when students are not present.
  • All drills are always announced at the time of the drill initiating, and drills are never to be done in a way that has people guessing if it’s a scenario or real-life situation.
  • Scripts are often used during drills to help frame the lockdown exercise and reinforce the ‘practice’ message.
  • We work on age appropriate differentiation with lockdown drills, and have language at the elementary level that is different than middle and high school.
  • We continue to keep an eye on literature and national studies to help guide our practices, such as the attached from National Association of School Psychologists.

To report information regarding threats, rumors, criminal activity, etc. you can use our Safe Schools Alert line (844) 310-9560 or bellinghamschools.org/safe.