School Safety Efforts & Protocols in the Event of an Unforeseen Emergency

Holyoke Public Schools partners and collaborates with Massachusetts State Police and the Holyoke Fire and Police Departments to ensure we have appropriate safety protocols in our schools.

These protocols focus on awareness, prevention, preparation, and response to incidents. As part of monthly district crisis team meetings, we conduct drills and review emergency procedures to test our preparedness. We also train our staff in school evacuation, lockdown, shelter-in-place, and reunification procedures.

School Evacuation Information (On-site and Off-site)

On-site Evacuation: If an incident occurs that requires a temporary evacuation from the building, students will follow fire drill procedures and convene at a planned location on the school premises. This type of evacuation may or may not interrupt school communication, dismissal and instructional time.

Off-site evacuation: When an incident occurs that requires us to move students to an off-site location, we will communicate directly with families about a designated reunification location to pick up their children. In such an event, we ask that families present a photo ID and sign out a child before they are allowed to be dismissed.  Clear signs will be posted to provide specific directions to families.

Enhanced Lockdown or Shelter-in-Place

Lockdown or shelter-in-place are used when the conditions outside of classrooms or buildings require that students remain in their current location.

  • Lockdown procedures are utilized when there is an imminent and serious internal threat to the safety of students and staff in the building (i.e. intruder). Staff and students are asked to remain in their current location and are given directions on how to remain safe.

  • A shelter-in-place may be needed in the event of a medical emergency, a chemical spill, low-level school threats or police activity around a school. In these cases, students are generally asked to remain secure in their present location, but normal school functions (such as teaching and learning) can continue.

During these events, it is not possible for anyone other than public safety officials to enter or exit a building.

The lockdown or shelter-in-place is not lifted until the school leader or emergency personnel communicates an “All Clear” message to the school.

Parents will be notified of an emergency action in the event that it has an extended impact on the school day or if the incident impacts student safety.

How can you help?

  • Update your school’s nurse if there are any changes to your child’s health and/or medication status.

  • Please keep your emergency contact information updated with the school: cell, email, work and home numbers.

  • Notify your school office if the adult responsible for picking up your child has changed. During an emergency, we would ask that you do not call the school as phone lines need to be kept open for emergency communication.  We will inform you via our district-wide notification system once we know that all students and staff are safe.

  • It is important that all families who enter our schools visit the main office first. We will then ask you to follow our visitor sign-in and identification procedures.  If you have any questions or concerns about a school’s procedures, please do not hesitate to contact the principal.

  • In the event of an emergency, please do not immediately drive to your child’s school. Extra congestion will preclude emergency personnel from accessing a school.  We will provide information through the media and our district-wide notification system.  Students and staff will not be able to access their cars during a lockdown or evacuation.

  • If you are aware of any threats to our schools, please contact your child’s principal immediately. You might have information that could prevent a potential safety issue at a school.

Also, as a reminder, schools will conduct searches of student clothing, desks, lockers and/or automobiles in the interest of safeguarding students, their property and school property, as per the HPS handbook.  We appreciate your partnership and cooperation as we take important steps to ensure that all children in Holyoke are educated in safe and nurturing school environments.