Emergency and Safety Procedures (Colorow)

Colorow Safety Drill Procedures

FiremanOne type of drill we practice is a fire drill. For this drill, the alarm is pulled manually and all persons inside the building evacuate in a quiet and orderly manner. We evacuate to the soccer field where all classes line up and teachers call roll. The emergency team (BERT) has radios and each member has a specific role to fulfill as we account for all children and adults including visitors to our building during a short time frame. The district dispatch is contacted by the Incident Commander (typically the Principal) and they monitor our drills for effectiveness. At times, the fire department also attends these drills and we take any recommendations very seriously.

Tornado DrillA second type of drill we have periodically is a shelter drill. We have regular tornado drills since Colorado occasionally has threatening weather. For tornado drills, we have designated gathering places in the building with more secure walls and away from windows. Students sit quietly on the floor with heads down. Teachers always take roll and again these shelter drills are radioed into the district where they are monitored and closely timed with suggestions taken to the Colorow Building Emergency Response Team (BERT). Our students have done a remarkable job of practicing a bad weather drill and they know what to do.

LockoutA third type of drill we practice is a lockout where we secure the perimeter. This year we had a lockout which was not a drill due to police activity a few miles away. For a lockout students return inside and conduct business as usual. We increase situational awareness, take roll and carefully follow the directions we are given by dispatch through Jeffco security. As a Building Emergency Response Team (BERT), we take diligent notes, discuss our plan with the district and readjust to meet the needs of our students, staff and families but always follow the recommendations of the Jeffco Security Department which adheres to the Standard Response Protocol known throughout Colorado. Last year, we did not have any lockouts at Colorow but I have been told there are often several in a year for things such as robberies at a nearby mall or domestic violence in suburbs a few miles away, etc. We are still in the process of readjusting some of our practices when said drills occur during our release time. We ask for your continued patience as we get this drill down. You will be asked to show identification during this type of situation so please come prepared with ID and your patience. In our recent September lockout, because our students were not in imminent danger, the person in charge was told to release students to the adult that was expecting them and we had the students who walked call a parent for permission to walk once the lockout was lifted. We have made some adjustments based on what went well and what did not go so well as a result of this first lockout. We will continue to learn and grow as we have these lockouts throughout the year. Our goal is the same as yours, to keep all students safe and we will do all that we can to make sure this happens.

School LockdownA fourth type is a lockdown drill. This announcement for the drill states “Locks, Lights, Out of Sight” and would be used for a situation such as an intruder inside the building. In my thirty years as a Jeffco employee, we have had two real lockdowns both brought on by someone not stopping to check into the office and not wearing a badge. Until the person could be located and quickly escorted back to the office, we went on lockdown. Teachers close their locked classroom doors, and all parties move away from sight of the windows and remain silent. Doors are not opened until all is clear and the Principal and responders enter with a key.

Evactuation Assembly AreaLastly, we practice a full off-site evacuation drill once a year. This piece ensures that students are reunited with a trusted adult who is required to provide identification once they arrive at our evacuation site which is Lilley Gulch Recreation Center. The first responders would oversee this process. This usually means the Jeffco Sherriff’s office. Students walk to Lilley Gulch in partner rows, class by class. Teachers take roll and notify the BERT if missing, extra or injured students are in attendance. As with other drills, teachers have green cards indicating that everyone is fine and accounted for and red cards meaning we need to speak directly to them because there is someone unaccounted for or perhaps someone extra with their class. Red can also just mean someone needs assistance etc.

We appreciate your compliments and your patience and we take your suggestions seriously when drills or the real thing occur. The most difficult situation is when we must let you know that we are under a drill that requires you to line up and show your identification to pick up your children. I have instructed the team to check driver’s license against the information we have on Jeffco Connect so you can clearly see why it is so important for this information in Jeffco Connect to be current and correct. The lining up and showing of ID will be frustrating for you as we will likely have two to three staff members with laptops out in front of the school checking ID’s in this situation. If during the process the lockout is lifted, we will always do our best to make this announcement by bullhorn in front of the school and students will be dismissed as usual. Situations such as the lockout we had in September usually last an hour or so and the district will send out the School Messenger to whatever number you have designated. Always listen for a second message in case the situation changes and the lockout is lifted. We have had some personnel changes since the last drill and are in the process or re-identifying our specific roles. I also want you to know that we are told exactly what message to release which typically sounds something like, “There is law enforcement activity nearby.” You can usually then tune into the news to find out more specific information. The information we typically receive is very general in nature and we tell you what dispatch tells us.

Overall, the Colorow Building Emergency Response Team (BERT) and I hope that by explaining the differences in the drills we practice, you are reassured we have systems and practices in place to keep your children as safe as possible when they are here at school and in our care. Our Cooperative Decision Making Team (CDM) felt that the community would appreciate some definition of the various drills so hopefully, you all understand the drills more thoroughly after reading these explanations.
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