Sycamore has a comprehensive Crisis Plan, one that outlines plans and procedures for almost any kind of crisis you can imagine: severe weather, fire, intruder, earthquake, bomb threat, assault, disruptive individuals, hostage, kidnapping, injury, shooting, national disaster, etc. We hope most of these emergency situations never occur, but we are prepared if they do.
We have participated in training with IMPD and Homeland Security, both of which have our complete Crisis Plan and have guided us in its development. We are told by IMPD that they use Sycamore as a model when discussing emergency preparedness with other schools. We keep our plan updated, and we review it every year with faculty and staff.
Every faculty and staff member at Sycamore has an “emergency backpack” containing the full Crisis Response Plan as well as rosters, directories and water. Every person also has a two-way radio.
As a reminder, we keep Sycamore locked all the time, and you have parent codes for access. This is an important security measure.
Each year we practice three drills on a regular basis: tornado drills, fire drills, and lockdown drills. By practicing for these emergencies and a variety of possible scenarios, our kids become good responders and do not panic. Last fall, even on the second day of school, under an actual threat of a tornado, our faculty, staff, and students all responded just as they should.
Last August, because the severe weather occurred at carpool time, we had many parents in the carpool line or in the building.
What are appropriate guidelines for parents in this situation or in another kind of emergency? Whether it’s a drill or an actual emergency, recommended actions for parents include:
- Do not call the school. We want to keep our phone lines open for emergency communications and our adults available to help kids. We will issue electronic and automated phone updates as we can.
- If you are in the building, follow the directions that adults are giving kids. In the case of fire, exit the building. In the case of a tornado, go to a clearly marked tornado safe space (marked with a funnel cloud sticker on the door). In the case of an intruder, follow directions to either shelter in place or leave the campus. In an emergency situation, it’s important for adults to act as good role models for kids. Remaining in the lobby while students and staff follow emergency procedures sends mixed messages.
- Adults who want to search for their kids can actually get in the way of staff members who are fulfilling their responsibilities in order to keep the children safe. Please trust that we will do our best to make sure every person in our building is safe.
- If you are in a carpool line or arriving at school for some other reason, follow the directions of adults in charge. If there’s a fire, stay outside. If there’s a tornado, go inside and find a tornado shelter. If there’s an intruder, follow directions to shelter in place or to exit the building.
Fortunately, we have worked hard to plan for the possibility of any emergency. I hope we never find ourselves in a terrible emergency; however, I believe that everyone here will make good judgments and keep the safety of everyone as the top priority.