The school district is committed to providing a safe environment for students, staff, and visitors. It works closely with national, state, and local safety personnel— police, fire, emergency medical services, emergency management agencies, and public health— to ensure our schools are well prepared for an emergency.
School Resource Officers, or SROs, are police officers employed by the school system. These officers are housed at all Gwinnett high schools and middle schools and also at some elementary schools. In addition to policing school campuses, these officers focus on educating students and staff on safety issues and working with school administrators on school safety plans.
In addition, GCPS updates its district and school emergency operations plans annually. These plans, which are approved by the Gwinnett County Office of Emergency Management, are the guides to help staff and our public-safety partners respond swiftly should a crisis occur in our schools.
Emergency Preparation in GCPS
As a parent, you can feel confident that when you send your children off to school that you are sending them to a safe, orderly place. Our schools are safe because our school communities work hard to ensure safety.
- Each year, school administrators review and make any necessary modifications to their school’s Emergency Management Plans.
- Each school has key staff members with assigned roles and responsibilities to perform during an emergency.
- The school system’s emergency response plan is modeled on the National Incident Management System (NIMS) that has been developed by the Department of Homeland
- Every school conducts emergency drills throughout the school year so that students and staff are aware of the most effective and safe emergency responses.
- Students take an active role by following rules and reporting those who do not.
The Board considers the appropriate, sensitive, and timely response by school staff to crisis situations to be of utmost importance. Emergencies may occur at schools at any time. It is the objective of school personnel to respond in a way that will minimize the impact of the situation upon students and staff.
Safe Schools Plans/Required Drills Policy
Each local school is charged with implementing the Safe Schools Plans developed by the district and conducting training for staff to familiarize them with the school emergency plans. Each school has a Safe School Team which provides leadership in carrying out the plans. The team shall be composed of appropriate school personnel, such as principal, assistant principals, counselors, grade level chairs, department heads, coaches, and selected teachers.
Each local school shall develop, periodically update, and implement specific plans for that particular campus. The District Safe Schools Plan shall include, but is not limited to, guidelines for actions to deal with the following specific hazards: injuries and illnesses, fires, thunderstorms, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, winter storms, hazardous materials, earthquakes, utility failures, bomb threats, civil disturbances, terroristic acts, and nuclear emergencies. The plans also require drills, as appropriate, for emergencies arising from these hazards. It also shall include provisions for communicating information on emergency preparedness procedures to staff and students appropriate for their grade level.
Everyone has a Role
Ensuring school safety is everyone’s responsibility— staff, students, parents, and the entire community. Please report any safety concerns you may have to your school principal. In addition, ask your local school about its safety plan.
One important role you can play in keeping schools safe is to tell someone about illegal behavior or concerns you may have. Gwinnett County Public Schools operates a School Safety Tip Line. Call or text 770-822-6513 to make a report. You do not have to give your name when providing information via this confidential tip line.
As a parent, how can you prepare for a school emergency?
The number-one step that you can take to prepare for a school emergency is to provide accurate emergency contact information to your child’s school and notify the school if your information changes.
What should I do during a school emergency?
During a crisis, your first response might be to pick up the phone to call the school. However, a high volume of calls may bog down the phone system. When a school emergency occurs, a parent can get important information by doing one or all of the following:
- Visit gcpsk12.org or your local school website.
- If your school is affected, the district’s notification system, SchoolMessenger, will send out a Check your messages.
- Monitor local television and radio for news
- Tune into the school system’s cable TV station. During an emergency, you will want to get important information and directions from school officials before going to the You can be confident that accurate and timely information will be released to parents, the public, and the news media during any emergency incident.
What is a lockdown?
During a hard lockdown all school interior doors are locked and students are confined to their classrooms and no entry or exit of the school is allowed. This takes place if there is a threat or possible threat inside the school. During a soft lockdown all exterior doors are locked. This takes place if the threat is outside of the school. In some cases, parents could be admitted into the school with proper identification.
How will I know if a school is in a hard lockdown?
The main entrance will be locked.
If the school is in a soft lockdown, what type of identification will I need to enter the school and/or pick up my child?
If it is deemed safe to allow others to enter the building, you or your designated emergency contact will need to show a proper form of identification, such as a driver’s license or valid photo identification.
Who determines whether or not a school should be evacuated?
In the event of an emergency at or near the school, school leaders follow the direction of law enforcement and emergency response agencies in determining whether or not to evacuate the facility.
What does shelter-in-place mean?
Shelter-in-place means taking refuge in a small, interior room in the school, remaining there until it is safe to release students. This is a precaution to keep our students safe from hazardous materials that may have been released into the atmosphere. (This is not the same thing as going to a shelter in case of a storm.) This procedure is implemented if it is determined that evacuation or dismissal could possibly place students at risk.
If the school is evacuated, how will I be able to locate my child?
Each school has a procedure for helping parents to reunite with their child during a school emergency. Parents will be directed to a specific location where they will be required to show proper identification.
Remember, a student can generally only be released to an adult who is documented as an emergency contact. If you are a noncustodial parent, you must be listed on your child’s emergency contact information as a guardian and you will be required to show proper identification.
In regard to school emergencies, what should my child know?
Important rules for students during a school emergency are:
- Follow the directions given by the teacher or principal.
- Before using a cell phone, make sure it is safe to do so.
- Do not leave the school campus unless instructed to do so. In an evacuation situation or if school is dismissed early, follow the directions provided by the principal.