Police and school boards sign safety protocols
Representatives of four school boards and six police services that serve Simcoe County and the surrounding area gathered at the Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) administrative offices on Tuesday to sign an updated police and school board protocol to ensure schools are safe and police can respond in co-ordinated manner in emergency situations. From left are Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board chairman Brian Beal, Midland Police Service Chief Mike Osborne, South Simcoe Police Chief Rick Beazley, Rama Police Service Inspector Tom Batisse, Inspector, Rama Police Service, Barrie police Deputy Chief Bruce Carlson, SCDSB director Kathi Wallace, OPP superintendent Dwight Peer and Canadian Forces Base Borden military police Commanding Officer Maj. Darren Lemire.
SPRINGWATER TWP. - Preparing for the worst can make the best outcome possible of potentially tragic situations.
Local educators and law enforcement officials gathered on Tuesday to sign an updated police and school boards protocol to ensure schools and police are working together in the event of emergencies.
The protocol is the result of an ongoing partnership, which began in 2001, between four school boards and six police departments that serve Simcoe County and area.
Daryl Halliday, the Simcoe County District School Board’s superintendent of education, said the protocol exists to keep schools and communities safe.
“It outlines how all local schools, and the police services supporting them, are prepared to respond effectively, efficiently and in a co-ordinated manner in emergency situations,” he said.
Participating school boards include the Simcoe County District School Board, the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board, the Conseil scolaire Viamond board and the Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud board. Police services include local OPP detachments and Barrie, Midland and South Simcoe police detachments.
Halliday said all schools have evacuation plans in the event of gas leaks, bomb threats or fires which would require everyone to leave the school.
“Each school has an evacuation site. In addition to six mandated fire-drill evacuations, schools must now hold at least two drills per school year to practise evacuation drills for bomb threat/explosive incidents,” he said, adding procedures have been updated accordingly to reflect this change.
“The updated protocol also outlines annual training for staff, extended-time visitors such as teacher candidates, co-op students and volunteers as well as school partners such as childcare centres,” Halliday said. “Minor revisions and updates have been made to the protocol since 2001 to respond to changing emergency situations in our schools. The update protocol especially addresses significant changes including guidelines for bomb threats and explosive incident protocols.”
He said the world is changing.
“And so must our security procedures to keep students safe. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School attack (in Newtown, Conn. in December 2012), the Ontario Ministry of Education required that all elementary school doors are locked during the school day,” Halliday said. “There have been a number of incidents of school-based violence in Canada and the U.S., even as recently as (earlier this week) at Ohio State University.
“These incidents remind us of how important partnerships with our local police services are,” Halliday said, adding students understand that safety is a priority.
“By practising fire drills or tornado drills on a regular basis, they just become part of regular school life,” he said. “In my visits to schools and the discussions I’ve had with students related to safety, they share that while the concept of emergencies do make them nervous, they’re confident they know how to respond effectively following the lead of staff.
“Parents can help their children understand and feel safe by talking to them about the situations that can occur, but reminding them that these emergencies are rare,” Halliday added. “While the likelihood of such events happening in our schools remains small, we must continue to plan and prepare appropriately.”