School let­ter out­lines emer­gency re­sponses

The Record (Troy, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ni­cholas Buo­nanno nbuo­nanno@troyrecord.com @Nick­Buo­nanno on Twit­ter

COHOES, N.Y. » Cohoes City Schools Su­per­in­ten­dent Jen­nifer Spring re­cently sent a let­ter to par­ents and guardians about fre­quently asked ques­tions for emer­gency re­sponses.

The let­ter is in re­sponse to an in­ci­dent that oc­curred at the high school on March 20 when a 15-year- old male stu­dent was taken into cus­tody for call­ing the Al­bany County 911 dis­patcher and say­ing that he was go­ing to “shoot up the Cohoes High School.”

The uniden­ti­fied youth was trans­ported to the Cohoes Po- lice Youth Bureau for ques­tion­ing. It was de­ter­mined there was no cred­i­ble threat of an im­pend­ing shoot­ing, ac­cord­ing to city of­fi­cials. Fur­ther­more, of­fi­cials said, ad­mis­sions were made im­pli­cat­ing him­self in mak­ing the 911 phone call.

Since that in­ci­dent, district of­fi­cials have been look­ing to find ways to pos­si­bly im­prove com­mu­ni­ca­tion dur­ing those sit­u­a­tions since district of­fi­cials said many par­ents ended up flood­ing the school with mes­sages or show­ing up to the school try­ing to find out what was tak­ing place.

“Main­tain­ing the safety of our stu­dents and staff is a main pri­or­ity of the Cohoes City School Dis- trict. In light of our re­cent se­cu­rity threat, I wanted to take this op­por­tu­nity to review the district’s emer­gency re­sponse pro­ce­dures. Our schools reg­u­larly prac­tice these re­sponses through safety drills dur­ing the school year. I would also like to share these Fre­quently Asked Ques­tions about school lock­downs,” Spring wrote in the let­ter posted on the district web­site April 12.

Ac­cord­ing to the let­ter from the district, “A lock­down is the con­fine­ment of people inside se­cured rooms for safety mea­sures. It is used when a se­ri­ous threat ex­ists to the cam­pus that re­quires stu­dents staff and visi­tors to re­main in a locked area for safety. A lock- down may be or­dered by law en­force­ment, t he school prin­ci­pal or any school staff who iden­tify a po­ten­tial threat.”

District of­fi­cials noted that all stu­dents and fac­ulty mem­bers re­port to the near­est class­room, gym or cafe­te­ria dur­ing a lock­down and that all doors are locked and se­cured with the rooms re­main­ing locked un­til po­lice un­lock it since law en­force­ment is in charge dur­ing a lock­down.

In the let­ter, district of­fi­cials also men­tioned how district of­fi­cials are not able to an­swer any phone calls or al­low any­one into the school build­ing dur­ing a lock­down in­ci­dent.

“We un­der­stand that the first re­ac­tion of most par­ents is to come to their child’s school. How­ever, we ask that par­ents and guardians wait un­til we ad­vise them that it is safe to pick up their child. Par­ents ar­riv­ing un­ad­vised to the school may ac­tu­ally hin­der the emer­gency re­sponse and could jeop­ar­dize their own safety,” Spring wrote in the let­ter. “Dur­ing a lock­down, staff are not able to an­swer

in­com­ing phone calls as they are fol­low­ing the same safety pro­ce­dures as the stu­dents. Dur­ing other emer­gency re­sponses, call­ers may not be able to get through to the of­fice be­cause of an in­crease in the vol­ume of calls or be­cause staff are help­ing to en-

sure stu­dents and staff are safe.”

District of­fi­cials said that they will no­tify par­ents as soon as pos­si­ble about the lock­down through Black­board Con­nect, School­ogy,

School News No­ti­fier (SNN) as well as the district web­site cohoes.org.

“This is why it is vi­tally im­por­tant to keep your con­tact in­for­ma­tion up-to­date,” Spring wrote.

Cohoes City Schools Su­per­in­ten­dent Jen­nifer Spring

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