The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district has a new school-safety notification system this year, to prepare for everything from earthquakes to intruders.
The new system was developed in collaboration with the Ridge Meadows RCMP and follows provincial recommendations to covers six scenarios.
The new language uses more specific than terminology used in the past.
Previously, the board used the term “lockdown” to cover many scenarios, said school district spokesperson Irena Pochop. The broad use of this one term created ambiguity and didn’t give parents a clear sense of what was happening at the site.
As an example, an animal on school property or a police situation in the neighbourhood of a school both fell under the umbrella of “lockdown,” which caused unnecessary alarm, she said.
Under the new system, a dangerous animal on school grounds or a weather-related emergency would prompt a “shelter in place” response, while a police situation nearby would fall under a “hold and secure.”
The term “lockdown” will be reserved for a response designed to prevent intruders from entering occupied areas of the school.
“We believe the new language will provide parents/guardians and our communities with a clearer sense of the situation in any given scenario, and prevent unnecessary panic in incidents where the response is strictly precautionary,” said Pochop.
The new school safety notification system:
• Drop, Cover, and Hold – Used in the event of an earthquake, explosion, or any event that shakes the school.
• Hold and Secure – Used when there is a security concern, such as a police incident, in the neighbourhood of the school.
• Lockdown – Used to prevent intruders from entering the school, or in times when it is necessary to isolate students and staff from a danger outside or within the building.
• Shelter in Place – Used as a short-term measure to protect students and staff from potential dangers outside the school (environmental, weather-related emergencies, dangerous wild animals on school grounds or a missing child).
• Room Clear – Used to move people away from a hazard contained in one room or area.
The district has sent a message on the parent portal on the first day of school, Tuesday, advising of the change, and have also posted information about the new notification system to all school websites and the school district website.