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A critical ingredient in the safe school recipe is the uniform classroom response to an incident at school. Weather events, fires, accidents, intruders and other threats to student safety are scenarios that are planned and trained for by school and district administration and staff.
Historically, schools have taken this scenario-based approach to respond to hazards and threats. It’s not uncommon to find a stapled sheaf of papers or even a tabbed binder in a teacher’s desk that describes a variety of things that might happen and the specific response to each event.
The Standard Response Protocol is based not on individual scenarios but on the response to any given scenario. Like the Incident Command System (ICS), SRP demands a specific vocabulary but also allows for great flexibility. The premise is simple – there are five specific actions that can
be performed during an incident. When communicating these actions, the action is labeled with a “Term of Art” and is then followed by a “Directive”. Execution of the action is performed by active participants, including students, staff, teachers and first responders.
These specific actions can act as both a verb and a noun. If the action is Lockdown, it would be announced on public address as “Lockdown! Locks, Lights, Out of Sight.” Communication to local Law Enforcement Agency would then be “We are under Lockdown.”
Each response has specific student and staff action. The
Evacuate response is always followed by a location: “Evacuate to the Bus Zone.” Responses can also be chained. For instance, “Evacuate to Hallway. Shelter for Tornado. Drop, Cover and Hold.”
“REMAIN IN YOUR ROOM OR AREA. CLEAR THE HALLS.”
HOLD is followed by a location such as “in your room or area” and is used to clear a specific area, or hallways, in order to manage a situation.
SECURE (LOCKOUT) is followed by: “Get Inside. Lock outside doors” and is the protocol used to safeguard students and staff within the building when there is a nearby threat.
“LOCKS, LIGHTS, OUT OF SIGHT.”
LOCKDOWN is followed by “Locks, Lights, Out of Sight” and is the protocol used to secure individual rooms and keep students quiet and in place when there is a threat inside the building.
“EVACUATE TO A LOCATION.”
EVACUATE is followed by a location, and is used to move students and staff from one location to a different location in or out of the building when the building needs to be cleared.
“SHELTER FOR HAZARD USING A SAFETY STRATEGY.”
SHELTER is always followed by the hazard and a safety strategy and is the protocol for group and self-protection.
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