School letter outlines emergency responses
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