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Emergency Procedures - Frequently Asked Questions

Emergency Procedures FAQ

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What happens if a threat is detected inside a building?

A lockdown is declared when a violent intruder is known to be inside a building. ACPS has recently expanded the options for action that staff and students may take during a lockdown.

The new procedures will empower staff and students to choose other options during a lockdown. These may include evacuating the building, barricading a door or distracting a violent intruder.

What happens if the threat is outside the building?

When the risk is outside the building — the procedure is now referred to as “secure the building.”

Staff members at the location of an incident are now able to take appropriate action to keep students safe who may be around or near their building when an emergency is called. This may include allowing students and staff nearby to re-enter.

The same procedures apply as before regarding leaving a building once it has been secured: once inside a building, those inside may not leave the building until security has deemed it safe to do so.

What is the difference?

Lockdown refers to a threat inside the building.

Building put on lockdown due to potential danger inside or very near the building.  No entry allowed. Staff and students take the following action(s): evacuate or barricade in place (if unable to evacuate). 

Secure the Building

Building is secured as a precaution. Internal operations continue as normal but no one is allowed to enter or exit until status is lifted (to include students/staff outside when code was activated).


Students and staff are moved to a new or safe external location due to a situation in or near the facility. Evacuation may be structured (as a group) or independent.


Students and staff are instructed to take safe shelter inside due to an incident in or near the facility.

Will this mean that everyone will be safe from now on if there is a violent intruder incident?

ACPS always ensures our schools are as safe as we possibly can make them with the information available at the time and regularly reviews ways to make our schools safer.

Are we teaching students to fight a violent intruder?

All training is age-appropriate and no child is taught to fight a violent intruder.

What are we doing for people with intellectual or physical challenges?

All families with a student that has special needs will be notified about differentiated emergency procedures.

What should I tell my child?

There will continue to be considerable communication around these changes to families as well as to staff and the wider community. Please discuss these lockdown procedures with your child as appropriate. Some elementary students may notice little difference in the new drills, while middle- and high-school students may have many questions. There will be Q&A sessions ahead of the student training sessions at schools.

Do parents need training?

Parents do not need training in the lockdown procedures, but should be aware of them so to be able to effectively talk with children about how to handle a violent encounter. These procedures are useful for any violent encounter and are not limited to use inside a school.

What happens if my child faces a violent encounter during a field trip?

These new lockdown procedures are adaptable to any situation. They are not specifically designed for a school. The same drills that students and staff will learn in a classroom can be used anywhere, including on a field trip.

Why are parents asked not to call or text their child during an emergency?

The first priority for staff is to address the danger and ensure that all students are safe. Phone calls can distract from this priority and may potentially alert an intruder to the location of a student. The ACPS Office of Communications will communicate with families as soon as possible. Staff, students and parents can sign up for alerts at