Charles County, MD — Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) is changing the way it responds to certain incidents in schools. These changes are aimed at making it clearer to students and teachers exactly what they should do during an emergency.

CCPS will use five actions developed by the “I Love U Guys” Foundation and adopted by the school system this year. Action items are lockout, lockdown, evacuate, shelter and hold.

With these new protocols more actions are available for principals to take in the event of an incident near the school.  The new protocols are as follows:

Lockout –  teachers and students stay inside and lock all outside doors. A principal might place a school in lockout if there is a threat or hazard — such as a police search — outside of the school building. For students, this means if they are outside, they return to the inside of a building and instruction continues as usual. No one is allowed in or out of the building during a lockout. 

Lockdown – means doors are locked, lights are out and students and staff are out of sight in a locked room. A principal would lockdown a school if there is a threat or hazard inside the school building. Examples could include an angry person who runs past the office staff or a wild animal that gets into a building. During a lockdown, students and staff will stay out of sight and silent until police or other emergency responders clear the school of the threat.

Evacuate –  means moving students and staff from one place to another. Relocation could be to another area in the school or a predetermined outside site. Schools might evacuate if there is a fire, flooding or similar emergency that creates a potential hazard.

Shelter – If there is a tornado warning, hazmat or other threat to personal protection, the school will ask students and teachers to “shelter.” Shelter requires students to evacuate to a shelter area and seal the rooms. Students practice for different shelter events, including earthquakes, as part of their annual drills.

Hold – Sometimes it is necessary to clear a school hallway or outside area. In this instance, a principal might place the school on “hold,” meaning students stay in their classrooms, but business continues as usual. A principal can “hold” if a medical helicopter is landing on the school site due to a nearby accident or someone in the school needs medical attention and privacy while emergency services render aid.

Posters explaining these terms are displayed in classrooms. State and county rules require schools to conduct 27 drills throughout the year including fire, reverse evacuation, lockdown, lockout and shelter