Responding to Emergencies in HPS
Dear Parents/Guardians, Staff, Students, and Community Members,
As you may be aware, over the past few weeks several schools in West Michigan and across our country have received threats ranging from bomb threats to physical harm of individuals. While Holland Public Schools has not received any threats at this time, it is possible on any given day that someone could make a threat or we may experience an actual emergency or a disaster situation.
Should an emergency or disaster situation ever arise in our area while school is in session, we want you to be aware that the school district has made preparations in conjunction with local emergency response personnel to respond effectively to such situations. In fact, public schools are built to meet stringent construction standards and they may be safer than your own home in the event of a disaster.
Should we have an emergency or major disaster during school hours, your child(ren) will be cared for at the school. Our school system has a detailed emergency plan, developed in cooperation with Ottawa County Sheriff Department officials, the City of Holland Department of Public Safety and based upon national best practices. The plan has been designed to respond to any major catastrophe and/or threat. We are also very fortunate to work with several other partners including the area Red Cross and other service providers in the event that we would need to respond and initiate any type of parent-child reunification process.
Should an emergency occur, we will share information regarding the issue as it is available to us based on the facts known. What we are able to share is a decision made in coordination with emergency response personnel and law enforcement officials. Information may be found on our web page at www.hollandpublicschools.org, on local media outlets, and in some cases via our Instant Alert System. Please note that sometimes the media may receive information ahead of what we are able to generate to parents. This information may not always be accurate. Unfortunately, we are also unable to respond ahead of social media in the age of technology and the number of personally owned devices. We simply do not have the means to shut down the Internet. Please rely on the communication of events happening regarding an emergency in any of our schools from local law enforcement or through direct communication from the school district itself.
The time between the announcement of an emergency and receiving up to date and accurate information can be a stressful, emotional and challenging time. Please know that we practice drills and execute our emergency plans with the full consideration of our over 4,000 students and over 600 staff members with great care. Our number one concern are all of these individuals inside any event first before we take action to share information with the community at large.
Your cooperation is necessary in any emergency, for both the safety of staff and students and the expedient reunification with your child if necessary. Please consider the following points that will assist us in keeping your child(ren) safe:
- Do not telephone the school. Telephone lines may be needed for emergency communication. In addition, office staff will be in lock down areas as well.
- Do not go to the school, or evacuation site, until notified to do so.
- In the event of a serious emergency, students will be kept at their schools or evacuated to an alternate site if necessary. Only a parent, guardian, or an adult who has been identified on the school system emergency form, will be permitted to pick up a student. This form is required to be filled out by parents at the beginning of every school year.
- If students are to be kept at school or evacuated to an alternate site, the media will be notified, information will be posted on our web page, and families will be notified via our Instant Alert System.
- Impress upon your children the need for them to follow directions of any school personnel in time of an emergency.
- It is critical that students and parents refrain from using their cell phones during emergency situations during these critical times inside the system. A sudden surge in cell phone usage could actually overload the system causing it to shut down. Your child(ren) needs to be paying attention to directives from school personnel.
The emergency actions your school may take are dependent on the emergency situation. Every situation is different and may require a different response. Please realize that we will do everything within our power to keep your child(ren) safe. Planning ahead helps alleviate concern during emergencies.