John Hay Big 5: Safety – An Overview of Emergency Response Procedures

Seattle Public Schools have very thorough and complete emergency procedures in place to respond to a variety of emergency situations.  I’d like to highlight the procedures and provide you an update on how John Hay prepares students and staff in the event of an emergency.

  • Fire and Evacuation Procedures – Fire drills are conducted monthly.  Each classroom has an assigned meeting place on the play ground. At the alarm, all students, staff and parents exit the building immediately through assigned or the nearest exit.  Students not in classrooms at the time of the alarm are taught to go to the nearest exit and meet his/her teacher at their assigned location. 
  • Earthquake Procedures – Two to three times per year an Earthquake drill is initiated with the announcement  “the earth is shaking. The earth is shaking”. Students have been instructed to immediately shelter themselves under a desk or table, circle one leg with an arm, and cover their neck/head with the other arm.  Students and teachers remain under cover until instructed that all is safe. 

In the event of a real quake, as occurred in 2000, administration and designees will check the building and make the decision to either remain inside or evacuate the building.  If an evacuation is deemed necessary, the evacuation announcement is given either overhead or room to room with special instructions around safest exit routes.  Administration and designees check the classrooms for injured students or staff as designated by a green (all clear) or red (injury) ribbon left on the door by the evacuating teacher. 

  • Extended Evacuation – should an event occur that interferes with the district transportation system or prevents parents and caregivers from reaching children for an extended period of time, the school defers to procedures listed below.  Although highly unlikely, should a disaster occur that disrupts our city’s infrastructure to the degree that results in keeping students at school,  staff has been trained to move efficiently in setting up stations and procedures designed to provide basic needs for all students while at the school.  While the exact procedures are too extensive to describe here, a few highlights are important for parents to know. 
    • Provisions for shelter, first aid, and a 3 day supply of food and water for every child and adult are kept on site at the school at all times.
    • Staff is trained in the procurement of food and supplies, setting up of an area for toileting, triage, student nurture and supervision. 
    • Specific emergency communication procedures, practiced in monthly office/central drills, are begun to get information in to the school and out to the community.  And,
    • The creation of a pickup station for processing students for release to arriving parents, guardians or designated caregivers is developed.  Students will not be released to any adult away from the pickup processing station.  Also, please make sure your child’s record provides names of other adults who can pick up your child in the event of any emergency. 
  • Reverse Evacuation – A Reverse Evacuation is defined as the process for moving students/staff indoors quickly. Some reasons for Reverse Evacuation include gunshots, drive by shooting, school is notified by law enforcement that an armed individual may be in the area, etc.  Reverse evacuation drills are conducted once or twice per year.
  • Relocation – Relocation is defined as the process for moving an entire school from one location to another due to a dangerous situation. Some of the reasons for Relocation include fire, hazardous material incidents or structural damage. The plan for Relocation is always communicated by verbal or written instruction.  The relocation site for John Hay Elementary School is Coe Elementary school located near 6th Avenue West and West McGraw.  No relocation drill is conducted.
  • Lockdown – A Lockdown is the process of protecting students and staff from external and internal dangers. A Lockdown is used when the potential for violence within the campus exists, usually during a red alert status, and potentially during an orange alert status.  Students and staff are notified of a lockdown through an announcement at which time teachers check hallways and lock students in the classroom, cover windows and door windows, and engage students in a calming activity in a classroom location away from the door.  A Lock down drill is conducted one time per year.

At our April 13 staff meeting, all staff will be reviewing and receiving our annual training around all of these procedures.  A Shelter in Place drill will be conducted sometime this spring in addition to our monthly fire drills and tri-monthly earthquake drills.  Should you have questions or desire more specific information about the SPS emergency procedures, please refer to the district website at


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