In Commack Schools, the safety and security of our students and staff will always be our number one priority. When an emergency arises, we take very specific actions to respond to a variety of situations. The acronym S.H.E.L.L. is used to clearly identify the different types of responses used by schools throughout New York State. Using these specific responses and specific language provides students, staff, parents, law enforcement officials, and community residents with a common language to understand what is happening and how we are responding.
S – Shelter in Place: No imminent concern. Typically a Shelter in Place is used during severe weather. In these situations, students and staff are required to remain indoors because it is safer inside the building than outside. In most cases, students remain in classrooms, however, if it is determined that there is a safer place in the building to shelter, students and staff would relocate to a different space in the building.
H – Hold in Place: No imminent concern. Hold in place is generally the response when there is a short-term issue and we want to make sure there is no one entering an area that has been impacted. An example would be a power outage in one portion of a building or an ambulance response to a specific location in the building. In these cases, movement of students and staff is temporarily limited while the team attends to the issue. Students and staff who are in an area that is impacted may be relocated to a different location in the building if necessary.
E – Evacuation: Students and staff are required to leave the building because it is safer outside than inside, such as during a fire, hazardous material spill, etc. Communication updates will be provided as the situation allows. Evacuation could mean students and staff gather outside and away from the building until an all-clear signal is given. In some circumstances, students and staff may need to be transported and housed temporarily in another location. In the event that students and staff had to be relocated, a dismissal/reunification plan will be communicated. For their own safety - and in order to allow staff to support our students and manage the evacuation - parents and community members are asked to avoid coming to the buildings.
L – Lockout: The school building is secured due to an imminent concern outside the school building. This could be due to police activity, or some sort of local emergency response. We make the decision to enter into a lockout when it becomes apparent that the school has been deemed the safest place for students and staff. The only access point for the building would be a single locked and monitored entrance. Typically, though, no one will be permitted to enter or leave the building for the duration of the lockout. For their own safety - and in order to allow staff to support our students and manage the logistics of the situation - parents and community members are asked to avoid coming to the buildings. Generally, regular indoor activities may continue, but outdoor activities do not occur. Communication updates will be made as the situation allows. Keep in mind that there are many cases where one specific school may be placed into a lockout due to a very specific/localized event and our remaining schools will continue with a typical school day.
L – Lockdown: Most serious status, imminent danger. Students and staff take cover, remain silent and out of view. This occurs when an incident poses an immediate threat of violence in or around the school. School personnel will alert law enforcement but will likely not be able to issue any other communication to the community until the threat has passed in order to maintain everyone’s safety.