1. What is emergency preparedness?
All NNPS schools have plans in place that guide staff in responding to an emergency. In general, each plan involves designating a crisis management team; developing evacuation, shelter-in-place, and lockdown procedures; designating one or more appropriate evacuation sites; provisions for training personnel and updating the plan; and resources for help before, during and after an event. All NNPS school plans are reviewed annually.
2. What safety precautions are in place?
The safety of our students is of utmost important. In light of recent threats to our national security, schools are taking the following precautions:
- All schools have a staff member at the front door to check in visitors.
- Exterior doors with the exception of the front door remain closed and locked.
- Student travel for field trips is being approved on a day-to-day basis.
- Security officers will be assigned to those schools without officers on staff.
- Teachers are continuing with regular classroom lessons. Viewing television coverage of world events is being restricted.
- Outdoor activities and extracurricular activities will continue but will be reviewed on a daily basis.
3. How can I stay informed?
There are a number of ways for parents to stay informed. Emergency messages are posted on the NNPS Information line at 283-7810, the Daily Press 1-line at 928-1111, Category 7737, the NNPS website at https://sbo.nn.k12.va.us and cable Channel 47. Emergency messages are also transmitted to local radio and television stations.
4. What is a lockdown?
If a school cannot be safely evacuated, school officials may choose to protect students and faculty by instituting a school lockdown. In a lockdown, all students are kept in classrooms or other designated locations. School personnel will also secure building entrances to make sure that no unauthorized individuals leave or enter the building. Students are monitored closely by staff to ensure that no one leaves the safe area. Parents are permitted access to the building and to their children if it is safe for them to do so.
5. In the event of a terrorist attack or other emergency situation, will schools be locked down?
The specifics of the situation, the safety of students and staff, the level of threat, and the advice of local, state, and federal agencies will guide the school division's decision whether to institute a lockdown.
6. What is shelter-in-place?
Shelter-in-place is a short-term measure (measured in minutes or hours, not days) that uses a facility and its indoor atmosphere to temporarily separate people from a hazardous outdoor environment. If an accident or attack created contaminated air in the nearby area, everyone would be brought indoors, including those in trailers. Staff would close all windows and doors and shut down the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system. This would create a neutral pressure in the building, meaning the contaminated air would not be drawn into the building. No stockpiling of water and food is needed for shelter-in-place. In the event that a situation required such stockpiling, the division would take direction from federal emergency management officials.
7. How long will I be separated from my child?
A shelter-in-place situation is a short-term event. If the air outside the school is safe for parents to breathe, it is safe for their children to breathe. The idea of a shelter-in-place is to keep children safe until it is safe for them to be released to parents or transported home by bus.
8. What if a child is exposed to a biological or chemical contaminant?
In the event of an exposure--and the child is showing obvious symptoms of such--staff members on hand would conduct basic decontamination. School staff members would separate the child from other children and bathe him or her as thoroughly as possible with soap and water. If possible, school personnel would make sure that the child showered and would provide alternative clothing. The exposed clothing would be put in plastic bags, and the bags would be sealed. Removing a contaminated person's clothing effectively removes in excess of 80 percent of contaminants.
9. How will I know when it is safe to pick my child up?
NNPS desires to keep children safe inside their schools until the threat has been reduced. In an emergency, school may be the safest place for children to be. Parents may pick up their children unless public safety officials have declared a shelter-in-place response, or there is some other reason why access to the facility is restricted. During any emergency, school personnel will maintain as safe and normal environment for children within the school as is possible. Please note that school is not automatically canceled in emergency situations.
10. What if a school is evacuated?
If public safety officials require that a school building be evacuated, students and staff members will be safely transported by bus to a designated site. Parents will be informed of the location via the local media, the web site, and Channel 47. At the site, students will be released to their parents upon presentation of proper identification.
11. Why can't I be given the location ahead of time?
During emergency situations, circumstances could arise that might force changes to previously designated locations. Parents will be informed of the location where they can meet students via the local media and through school resources.
12. What if my child is riding a school bus at the time of a crisis?
Bus drivers will be informed to use common sense and not travel toward the crisis location. If for some reason, children cannot be brought to school, the driver will be directed to take them to a designated safe area. Parents will be informed of the location via school resources and local media. All buses are equipped with radios.
13. Who can pick up my children?
Children will be released to individuals authorized on the student's emergency care card or who have written parent authorization. Parents may also call with this information. All adults picking up a child other than the parent will be asked to show identification. The emergency card is completed by parents and guardians at the start of each school year. Parents and guardians are encouraged to update the emergency card as needed throughout the school year.
14. What about my child's medication?
If your child takes medication regularly at school and would need that same medication, the nurse will evaluate that need. If the medication your child takes at home is so critical that missing a dose endangers his or her health, the parent should contact the school nurse about possibly keeping medication at school.
15. Are students allowed to have cell phones at school?
High school students are allowed to keep cell phones in their cars. In the event of an emergency requiring a lockdown, students would be unable to use their phones to communicate with parents. It is important to recognize that in an emergency situation, cell phone circuits may become overloaded, interfering with public safety's ability to communicate.
16. Can I contact my child during an emergency?
Parents are asked not to call the school in emergency situations so phone lines can remain accessible for handling the specific situation. Parents will be kept informed via the NNPS Information Line at 283-7810, local television and radio stations, the NNPS website, and cable Channel 47.
17. What will schools do if there's a smallpox outbreak?
NNPS is working with the health department on the communitywide response for mass vaccination.
18. How will my children know what to do in the event of a terrorist attack?
Inform your children that, if a crisis occurs while they are in school, their teacher will provide them with appropriate instructions. Parents are also encouraged to prepare a family disaster plan and practice it so that everyone will remember what to do if a disaster does occur. Everyone in the household, including children, should play a part in the family's response and recovery efforts. Teach your children how to recognize danger signals. Make sure your children know what smoke detectors, fire alarms, and local community warning systems (horns, sirens) sound like.
19. Will children be allowed to view events via live television or radio reports?
In the event of a terrorist attack or other crisis, television viewing of coverage will be restricted. School staff will be urged to keep instruction a priority during the school day.
20. How are extracurricular activities handled?
The impact of any critical situation on extracurricular activities--both divisionwide and at individual schools--will depend on the specifics of the situation. There may be circumstances that could require the cancellation of field trips to certain areas. If the situation warrants, all extracurricular activities may be canceled. All school buses are equipped with radio communications with the transportation office. If students are travelling to an event and must be recalled, buses would be directed to return to the school or a designated safe area.
Director of Public Information and Community Involvement
NNPS Information Line:
WTKR, Channel 3
WAVY, Channel 10
WVEC, Channel 13
Commercial radio and television stations determine what, if any, information to announce.
Virginia Dept. of Emergency Management Resources:
Know Your Evacuation Zone
Tornado Preparedness Guide