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In 2012, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania announced changes to Chapter 10 Safe Schools Regulations, which required school districts to update their emergency plans. Recognizing the importance of this change, under the leadership of BCIU Executive Director Dr. John George, and in partnership with District Attorney John Adams, the vision and purpose for the 2012-13 initiative was to establish a county-wide all hazards emergency plan that met the requirements of Chapter 10 while incorporating a concept called Standard Response Protocol.
The Standard Response Protocol provides four distinct options for school officials to choose at the outbreak of crisis; the specifics of the crisis determine the choice. The keynote speaker for the 2012-2013 symposium, hosted by Governor Mifflin School District, was John Michael Keyes. Mr. Keyes is the founder of the “I Luv u Guys” foundation and the creator of the Standard Response Protocol. Mr. Keyes began the Standard Response Protocol initiative following the tragic death of his daughter Emily in the 2006 Platte Canyon High School hostage situation. Following this tragedy, Mr. Keyes dedicated his life to helping counties and states develop countywide response coordination efforts along with Standard Response Protocol procedures in schools. As Keyes noted during his presentation, “you don’t choose tragedy, but you can choose your response.”
The Standard Response Protocol options, and the language that describes them, are designed to be easily understood by children, parents, school personnel, and first responders. The responses are:
Lockout: secure the exterior
Lockdown: secure the interior
Evacuate: move students and staff to another location
Shelter: need for personal protection
This Standard Response Protocol, while serving as a guide, will also be accompanied with training workshops and practice for students and school personnel. Thus, whenever these commands are issued in schools, the children and adults within the schools will immediately know what to do.
The other key piece to the All Hazards Plan is developing standardized emergency plans that meet the requirements of Chapter 10 Safe Schools regulations. This task required the Berks County Intermediate Unit to allocate and secure additional resources to support our local school districts.
The Berks County Intermediate Unit, through the Pennsylvania Department of Education, secured a grant to move the project forward.
In order to have county-wide coordination, additional partnerships with those having law enforcement and emergency expertise were established. The following is a current list of project partners committed to the initiative:
Meeting were held to review the steps to begin the process of implementing a county-wide all hazards plan and common Standard Response Protocol that will guide the decision-making and actions of teachers and school personnel at the outbreak of a crisis. At the onset of a crisis, not only will school personnel be better prepared to act, but law enforcement, fire, and EMS personnel that are the first to arrive will have a greater understanding of the situation and the actions that are being undertaken by the school personnel at the scene.
As part of the cooperative effort with our schools and community partners, BCIU has developed All Hazards Plan curriculum tools. Lesson plans and activities were created for Berks County teachers to use in their classrooms to teach the four Standards Response Protocols (Lockout, Lockdown, Evacuate, and Shelter) and Run, Hide, Fight model (response to an active shooter).
The lesson plans are created based on the following levels:
The lesson plans and activities for the Standard Response Protocols and Run, Hide, Fight model are being disseminated to Berks County Curriculum Coordinators, Berks Administrators of Special Education, and Berks County Superintendents at their September network meetings.
Keeping Kids Safe is an ongoing priority for the school districts in Berks County. Working collaboratively with our first responders and mental health providers will assist us to increase safety for the children and the adults that serve them in our Berks County schools.
For more information, contact the BCIU Executive Director’s Office by calling 610-987-8404.