School Safety Letter - 12/7/22

December 7, 2022
Good Morning,
Every year, schools in New York State are mandated to conduct a minimum number of emergency drills.  The statute now requires twelve drills be conducted each school year, four of which must be lock-down drills, the remaining eight are required to be evacuation drills such as fire drills.
In Oxford, we have continued to practice the evacuation drills as required but have also decided to increase the number of lockdown drills that we conduct in a given year.  These drills may come in many forms as the school year progresses and we test our proficiencies.  Sometimes we work with outside agencies such as law enforcement and sometimes we conduct internal-only drills.  The outcomes of these exercises are always debriefed and relevant information is disseminated.  In any situation where there is a real-world concern, we have always communicated with the community as soon as we have information to share.  That has happened on several occasions in the past couple of years.  
Oxford Academy has protocols in place to spread vital information as quickly and efficiently as possible.  The bottom line is, if there’s something going on, and you need to know about it, we will make sure you know.   If you don’t hear from us, it’s safe to conclude that it’s a drill.  For operational security purposes, we cannot always let you know what’s going on.  It’s also important to understand the basic language that we speak when these situations arise.
Let’s review:
Shelter-in-place - Students and teachers generally continue doing what they’re doing but will not leave the location that they are in until the shelter is lifted.  A shelter-in-place is most often called in cases of medical emergencies, when someone needs assistance and we want to minimize traffic (seizures and allergic reactions are common).  
Hold-in-place - Similar to a shelter-in-place.  Sometimes used in conjunction with another directive like a lockdown.  A hold-in-place is similar to a shelter-in-place in that students and teachers stay where they are until they get updated information releasing them from their location.  When buildings are being cleared during a lockdown, a hold-in-place is in effect until the entire building has been cleared and notice is given that the building has been released.
Evacuation - Students and staff are moved to a predetermined location because something is happening at or near the current location.
Lockout - Buildings are secured from concerns outside the building.  Doors and windows are closed and locked.  Outdoor activities are terminated.  Indoor activities proceed as normal.  Nobody may enter or leave the building until there is an order to lift the lockout after the danger has passed.  (We had a real lockout earlier this year and you were all notified immediately.)
Lockdown - There is a threat of violence inside the building and everybody seeks safety behind locked doors.  Students and staff stay out of sight and stay quiet.  Lights generally are turned off, phones silenced and nobody responds to announcements or fire alarms.  Once the threat has passed and the building has been secured, rooms will be cleared one at a time by safety personnel and a hold-in-place will be in effect until the entire building is cleared. (This is generally the most serious.)
Often, lockdowns and lockouts are used by people interchangeably but as you can see, they are very different responses to very different situations.  Mistaking one for the other can greatly change the dynamics of a situation and very often the misinformation flying around the community.
Please understand that the safety and security of our students and staff is always first and foremost on our list of priorities.   We will continue to do what is necessary to insure that safety and security every day because the threats are constantly evolving and we must evolve with those threats.  For now though, no news is good news.
Have a great day and let’s all remain Blackhawk strong.
John Hillis

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