Terms and Procedures in the Event of a School Emergency
In the event of a school emergency situation, the District and school staff may use the following terms to ensure a common language. These terms are also used by local law enforcement.
All Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) buildings are secured at all times. A secured school means the school building remains locked at all times. To gain entrance to PPS schools, all visitors must ring the bell at the front door. Once access to the building is gained, visitors must report to the main office and sign in. In some schools, visitors are asked to go through metal detectors and sign in with the School Security team. School staff may ask for a valid ID if you are picking up a child from the school. Please refer to our visitor procedures
for more information.
A modified lockdown is used when there is a community or school-based issue that requires restricted access to the school. A modified lockdown means that normal instructional activities continue as much as possible; however, no outside events, field trips or outside activities (including recess) occur unless explicitly cleared by School Police. While in modified lockdown, entry and exit to the school will be restricted and only individuals with a pre-existing appointment are permitted to enter the school facility.
A full lockdown is used to minimize student/staff exposure to a potential threat. For example, this procedure may be used when the City of Pittsburgh Police or School Police warn the school of a fugitive in the neighborhood or when a threat has been received by the school. In the event of a lockdown, all exterior doors and windows will be locked and no one aside from emergency personnel is permitted to enter or exit the school facility. During full lockdown, no outside activities, field trips or outside activities will occur. The students will be kept safe in individual secure classrooms in the building during the event and are not permitted to go outside. In the event of a lockdown, families will be notified through the phone messaging system. Families are not advised to go to the school during a full lockdown.
If a situation is not resolved prior to dismissal, students and staff will remain in the building until the situation is cleared by the City of Pittsburgh Police or School Police. Families will receive on-going communication from the school. Students will receive accommodations such as food, water and comfort while remaining in a building after dismissal.
The District will issue an evacuation of students and staff when leaving the building is the safest alternative. Evacuations may occur in the case of a threat, fire or when the school building is deemed unsafe. Attendance is taken to assure all staff and students are out of the building and arrive at the designation site safely. Each school has a designated evacuation site. School evacuation sites are not publicly available in an effort not to compromise school safety plans. In the event of a school evacuation, the school district will inform parents of the school evacuation site through the phone messaging system. All contacts, including emergency contacts, will be contacted in the event of an evacuation. please make sure your contact information is up to date.
We understand that school evacuations are stressful for students and their families. To quickly reunite students and their families during an evacuation at the school's evacuation site, families will receive a phone call via the District's phone messaging system from their child's school or the school district. In the event of an evacuation, the District will follow a standard reunification plan to ensure all students are safely returned to their families. During a reunification, families are directed to:
- Bring a valid form of Identification (ID)
- Follow signage and parking direction of reunification location.
- Complete the provided reunification form.
- Choose the check-in line that corresponds to your student's grade.
- Provide school personnel at the check-in table with a valid form of photo ID and the completed reunification form.
- Wait patently as a District staff member retrieves and escorts your student to you.
Please note that only approved adults with valid photo identification will be allowed to pick up students from the evacuation location.