Building a culture of preparedness - NGPS joins forces with Hour-Zero
Student and staff safety is an extremely important part of what we do at Northern Gateway Public Schools, from playground equipment and fire drills all the way through to the most severe incidents that can occur in a school community.
In support of student and staff safety, the Division is bringing in a new emergency preparedness program called Hour-Zero. Hour-Zero is a national Canadian based program that specializes in school emergency planning. The program provides the tools, technology and training to deliver a comprehensive and consistent emergency program throughout NGPS schools and in cooperation with our First Responders, media and other community partners.
Orientation to the new program took place in September for all NGPS school Principals and Assistant Principals, who were joined by several of our First Responders from communities throughout the division.
“Schools have always had an emergency preparedness program,” commented NGPS Superintendent Kevin Andrea. “But, the world has changed quite a bit … we need to support schools in confidently exercising their emergency response and preparedness plans and we need to work in concert with our First Responders and Media to enhance consistent communication and terminology used in emergent situations.”
The program will cover responsibilities of First Responders, staff, students and parents, to ensure proper communication between all groups involved in an emergency situation is clear and exact.
“Parents need the assurance that their children are safe at school, we need to provide that assurance,” said Andrea. “A big component of Hour-Zero is communication and how we are going to communicate in the event of an emergency.”
Unlimited access to technology during an emergency situation also poses challenges.
“A school will move into lockdown, and it’s up on social media right away,” Andrea shared. “Mom and Dad see it and they’re down at the school, pounding on the door. But the school is on lockdown, no one will get in. So how we communicate with parents during an emergency situation is very important.”
The orientation marked the first day of the program in the NGPS system with next steps consisting of site-by-site visits in order to create customized procedures and determine the safest areas in and around each school.
The target is to have all structures and procedures in place by the end of this school year with regular communication information, updates and terminology provided to parents via school newsletters, social media and the Division’s website at ngps.ca.