Emergency Preparedness

What is emergency preparedness?

Emergency preparedness is basically preparing the steps you will take in the event of an emergency. Every school in the Tacoma School District has a crisis response plan that includes procedures for communication and evacuation.

What will the school district do if an act of war or other emergency situation occurs while students are in school?

The specific actions taken by Tacoma schools in any emergency situation, both district wide and at individual schools, will depend on the specifics of the situation. The action taken would depend on several factors, including the level of threat and the advice of local, state, and federal agencies. The safety of students and staff members will be the primary concern in any decision.

What is Shelter-in-Place?

Shelter-in-Place, is a short-term solution to a short-term problem involving instances such as contaminated air in a nearby area. In cases such as this everyone would be brought indoors, including those in portables. School personnel would close all windows and doors and shut down the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC). This would create a neutral pressure, meaning the contaminated air would not be drawn into the building.

Shelter-in-Place is designed to temporarily (measured in minutes or hours, not days) use a facility and its indoor atmosphere to separate people from a hazardous outdoor environment. The alternative would be to evacuate into a hazardous situation, thereby causing potential harm to all involved.

During a Shelter-in-Place incident, our district facilities will be secured. On the advice of local emergency personnel, no one would be allowed in or out until the authorities give the all-clear. While we protect our students in the school, we recognize that for their own safety, parents and community members in the affected area would be sheltered in their homes or at work.

What measures are being taken for students in portables?

If an incident that created contaminated air occurred in the nearby area, everyone would be brought into the main school building, including those in portables.

Why are parents advised to leave their children at school until otherwise notified?

Tacoma does not intend to keep children from their parents if a crisis occurs during school hours or school activities. It is the school district's intent to make sure that children are safe inside their schools until such a time that the threat has been reduced. During a Shelter in Place, people will not be allowed in or out of the building until and all clear is given by emergency officials. Parents will be informed of the parent-student reunification center location via the school system emergency messaging system and local media.

What is a parent reunification site?

If public safety officials require that a school be evacuated, students and staff members will be safely transported to a designated parent-student reunification center. Parents will be informed of the reunification location via the school system emergency messaging system and local media. At the reunification center, students will be released to their parents or others authorized to pick them up upon presentation of proper identification.

Why can't I be given the evacuation and parent reunification locations ahead of time?

During emergency situations, circumstances could arise that might force changes to previously designated locations. Parents will be informed of parent-student reunification center locations via the local media and through school resources.

Are schools stockpiling food and water?

The school district is taking action to make sure that schools and offices have the appropriate resources available for up to three days.

What if my child is riding a school bus at the time of a crisis?

School bus drivers will be in contact with our Transportation Department for instructions in the event that a crisis occurs while students are in transport. Directions from emergency officials will be provided for transporting students to safety. Parents will be informed of the parent-student reunification center location via the school system emergency messaging system and local media.

Who can pick up my children?

Children will only be released to individuals who are authorized on the student's emergency care card or who have written parent authorization.

Parents and guardians are responsible for the accuracy of the information on their child’s emergency care card. If parents have not completed a card, they need to do so. If information has changed, parents need to update the card.

Friends and neighbors may sign a child or children out with written permission from a parent or parents. Schools prefer to have written permission on the day that a child's pickup will change, but schools will also keep written permission on file. School offices will keep the permission notes; usually they will attach them to the emergency care cards. Schools will also ask for identification when the child is released to the ones mentioned in the permission note. At the elementary level, it is advisable to communicate with the teacher as well, perhaps with a copy of the signed written note.

What about my child's medication?

If your child takes medication regularly, you should make sure that the school has a three-day dosage of additional medication on hand. Talk with your child's school nurse for more information.

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, school staff 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. It is advisable to have an out-of-area contact; a friend or family member who can relay information between effected family members. Everyone in the household, including children, should play a part in the family's response and recovery efforts.

Will children be allowed to view events via live television or radio reports?

In the event of a terrorist attack or other crisis, student exposure to the media coverage of the event will be limited based on the age of the students. Students will be told of the facts in language understandable to them without being over saturated with graphic media reports.

 

Safety notifications

UPDATE YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION WITH YOUR SCHOOL'S MAIN OFFICE

Phone calls are the fastest way for TPS to notify all families in the event of an emergency.

We always try to keep our families up to date on information as we learn it. Sometimes the speed of social media travels much faster than the time it takes to conduct an investigation. We want to ensure that the information we share with you is accurate as we work with our law enforcement partners.