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Emergency Preparedness

Charles County Public Schools is proactive in the area of emergency preparedness. Each school and building, as well as the system as a whole, has an emergency plan that deals with different situations and emergency management. Our plans have been developed with the input of numerous local emergency groups including the Sheriff's Office, Maryland State Police, Health Department and the County's Office of Emergency Preparedness. All plans are designed to protect students and staff while they are at school or work. We also work with the local Red Cross to provide resources, such as buildings when sheltering is needed.

Plans are regularly updated and reviewed. The plans include procedures to respond to the different codes issued by the federal government, such as codes yellow, orange and red, as well as fire, tornado and other potential emergencies. School system personnel and students practice emergency drills regularly.

What we do in an emergency depends on the situation and the specifics of the incident. In the event of an emergency, Charles County Public Schools receives direct input from public safety officials. Depending on the threat, we might evacuate schools, lock down or initiate a shelter-in-place. The main objective is protection of students and staff members. School system personnel are trained in emergency response, and several key staff members have received additional security threat training.

The following information for parents describes our school system's safety and support responses. If parents have particular concerns, they should contact the school principal.

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Where To Look For Information

Charles County Public Schools has a number of different ways to get the message to parents. General information is placed on the system's 24-hour information line, which is updated immediately in the event of an emergency, school cancellations, delayed openings and early closings. The numbers are 301-934-7410 or 301-932-6656. That information is also posted on our website and aired on Comcast Channel 96 and Verizon FiOs Channel 12.Receive e-mail and text message notifications from the Citizen Notification Service (CNS). E-mail notification is free; standard text message rates by your cell phone carrier apply. Visit www.charlescountycns.com to sign up and select Charles County Public Schools, then School Closings/Delays.

Additionally, Charles County Public Schools works with 8 television stations and 14 radio stations that assist in getting emergency information to the public. Those stations are listed on page 10 of the Parent Handbook/Calendar, which is distributed to every student the first week of school or upon enrollment.

Radio stations that air Charles County Public Schools emergency information are:
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Station Name Station Call Letters Frequency/Channel Website
WAVA WAVA 105.1 FM, 780 AM Website
WBAL WBAL 1090 AM Website
BIG 100.3 WBIG 100.3 FM Website
95.9 WGRQ WGRQ 95.9 FM Website
WKIK 102.9 WKIK 102.9 FM, 1590 AM Website
News Talk 630 WMAL AM WMAL 630 AM Website
WMDM 97.7 FM WMDM 97.7 FM Website
98.7 WMZQ WMZQ 98.7 Website
WPGC Jams 95.5 FM WPGC 95.5 FM Website
WPTX 1690 AM WPTX 1690 AM Website
Mix 107.3 WRQX 107.3 FM Website
98.3 Star FM WSMD 98.3 FM Website
WTOP WTOP 103.5 FM, 820 AM Website
DC 101 WWDC 101.1 FM Website

Television stations that list Charles County information are:
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Station Name Station Call Letters Frequency/Channel Website
NBC11 WBAL Channel 11 Website
Verizon FiOs Channel 12 Verizon FiOs Channel 12 Channel 12 Website
NBC4 WRC Channel 4 Website
FOX5 WTTG Channel 5 Website
ABC7 WJLA Channel 7 Website
News Channel 8 News Channel 8 Website
CBS9 WUSA Channel 9 Website
Comcast Channel 96 Comcast Channel 96 Channel 96 Website

Parents are encouraged to listen to the radio, watch television or call the information line (301-934-7410) for the latest messages from Charles County Public Schools. Parents should not call their child's school. The individual schools need to keep their lines open for communication with emergency responders.

Ensuring that parents and the community have timely information about the school system is the responsibility of the Office of Communications and Media Relations. The office is responsible for the broadcast of all Charles County Public Schools emergency messages. For more information, contact Katie O'Malley-Simpson, Director of Media Relations and Communications, at komalley@ccboe.com.

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Professionals Provide Crisis Intervention

Crisis response teams provide care and support for students and staff affected by a crisis or an emergency. School psychologists, school nurses, counselors and pupil personnel workers staff these teams. For more information contact Patricia Vaira, Director of Student Services, pvaira@ccboe.com.

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Heightened Security

Parents may hear the term "heightened security" as federal code levels change from yellow to orange to possibly red. Each school has developed a crisis preparedness plan that outlines the steps to take in the event of emergency. Plans include contact information, communications and evacuation plans. While the school system has security plans in effect every day at all schools, different situations call for heightened security levels. These include additional security checks, more stringent guidelines for where and when field trips and activities may occur, and additional supervision during class changes, especially for students moving to and from mobile classrooms.

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School Emergency Plans

School emergency plans vary from school to school based on their location and facility. Responses also vary depending on the situation, and plans are flexible to allow schools to respond based on the emergency. There are general components of each plan, which make up the essence of the crisis management teams' responses. All plans identify a crisis management team composed of school and administration building staff, who have been trained in handling emergencies. There are procedures for evacuation, shelter-in-place, lock-down and heightened security. Every school and school system center has information about designated evacuations sites, checklists for dealing with certain types of incidents and resources for before, during and after an event. All school plans are reviewed at the beginning of each school year. We do not release specific plans for security reasons, but if parents have a concern, they can call their child's principal.

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Shelter-In-Place

Shelter-in-place is a temporary solution to a short-term problem. It is not the school system's intention to detain children any longer than necessary. However, the public health or safety officials may direct the schools to shelter students. Shelter-in-place is an effort to isolate students and staff from danger. Staff is responsible for accounting for students. In the event of a chemical emergency, for example, we would bring all students and staff inside the main building and close and secure all windows and doors. All heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems would be turned off. Crisis teams and schools have plans and the materials available to bring children to interior spaces, lock and seal doors to the exterior and monitor radio, television and e-mail for instructions. Buildings will be secured so that no unauthorized persons leave or enter. Parents are permitted to access the building and their children once the school system is notified by safety and health personnel that it is safe to do so.

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Medications

Parents should make sure that schools have at least two days' worth of medications needed. Parents of students with medical needs that are not known to the school, such as daily medicine or other medical conditions that are administered or treated outside school hours, should contact the school nurse, who can provide additional information and help. All medical information is kept confidential.

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Emergency Cards

Parents should make sure that information on emergency cards is correct. If home or office phone numbers have changed since the beginning of the school year, parents should notify the school. These cards are used to contact parents in an emergency. Additionally, only people listed on the emergency card are allowed to pick up children from school.

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Code Orange, Code Red

Charles County Public Schools monitors all federal codes and acts accordingly. We try to maintain as normal a school day as possible in all situations; however, we are prepared to respond to emergencies. As the federal color code rises, we increase the level of security at our schools by checking the parking lots and areas in and around the schools more frequently. School officials review any necessary revision to school schedules or activities, including field trips. Additionally, the level of direct supervision of students moving between outside classrooms and the main school building, as well as student activities outside the building (recess, bus loading, etc.), is increased.
Related Link: Charles County Public Schools - Code Orange, Code Red

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Mobile Classrooms

Throughout Charles County, some students attend class in trailers located outside of the main building. In the event of a weather-related emergency or attack, particularly one involving contaminated air, everyone would be sheltered in the main building.

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Food and Water

All schools have enough food and water to sustain the students and staff for at least two days. The school system does not anticipate housing children for a long period of time.

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How Parents Can Help

DO...

  • Make sure emergency card information is correct.
  • Let children know that if a crisis occurs while they are in school, their teacher will provide them with appropriate instructions.
  • Tune in to the radio or television. Communication through the media, the school system information line and the website will let parents know the place and time that they can be reunited with their children.
  • Keep alert to activity around the schools and on school grounds. Report any suspicious activities.
  • Keep the school nurse informed of a child's medical condition and provide emergency medical supplies and medication.
DON'T...
  • Rush to the school or call the individual schools in emergency situations. Parents will be kept informed through the system information line, schoolsout.com, and television and radio stations.
  • Send neighbors or others not on the emergency card to pick up children.

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Helpful Link

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National Association of School Psychologists

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24-Hour Information Lines:

301-934-7410
301-932-6656

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Please visit our inclement weather section for information on how Charles County Public Schools handles weather emergencies.

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