Emergency Protocols

Staff, students, and visitors in Limestone District School Board have the right to learn, work, and attend a safe and secure environment. However, the possibility that a major incident of violence or a severe environmental concern may occur is a reality that cannot be overlooked.

To help ensure the safety and security of our school communities, the Board has comprehensive procedures in preparation for and response to emergency situations, which includes specific plans to keep students, staff and others safe in the event of a serious accident or potentially violent incident. Protocols have been developed in collaboration with local emergency services to proactively communicate, plan and train in an effort to prevent, where possible, violence from occurring in schools and where violence does occur, prepare for a quick, coordinated and effective response. More information is available in Administrative Procedure 141: Threats to School Safety.

It is of paramount importance that consistent terminology is used throughout our district and therefore there are four consistent terms and protocols that are used in emergency situations: emergency evacuation, shelter in place, hold and secure and lockdown. Each of these terms and situations are different. Definitions are provided below.

Each emergency protocol includes specific plans to keep students, teachers and other school personnel safe in the event of a threat in the vicinity of a school, a potentially violent incident, or an extreme environmental/weather event. Each potential crisis will be unique to the particular site and its inherent characteristics.

Emergency Evacuation

  • Possible danger inside the school such as a fire, gas leak, chemical spill or bomb threat.
  • Students are escorted by staff to their pre-determined evacuation location(s) away from the school.
  • No one will re-enter the school until the principal or designate issues an all-clear

Shelter in Place

  • Environmental or weather related situation in close proximity to the school outside the school, on school grounds and/or unrelated to the school) such as a chemical spill, wildlife on the playgrounds or extreme weather.
  • Necessary to keep all building occupants within the school .
  • Access to the school will depend on the nature of the situation.
  • Protocol will continue until the principal or designate issues an all-clear.

Hold and Secure

  • Emergency situation in close proximity to the school (outside the school, on school grounds and/or unrelated to the school) such as a police pursuit/investigation or incident in the neighbourhood.
  • All exterior doors are locked.
  • School operates as normal inside the school walls; outdoor activities are suspended.
  • Staff/students/visitors on property must be brought inside the building.
  • Access to the school is restricted and carefully monitored.
  • Protocol will continue until the principal or designate issues an all-clear.


  • Immediate threat of violence to students and staff inside the school building.
  • Main objective is to protect safety of everyone by securing them behind locked doors.
  • School does not operate as normal.
  • Students and staff are placed into secure locations and stay out of sight lines into the area.
  • Students and staff are not to use electronic devices during a lockdown unless they have critical information for the police or emergency services (911 purposes).
  • Access to the school is restricted; no one is allowed in or out.
  • Protocol will continue until the principal, designate or police issues an all-clear.

Communication during Emergency Protocols

During emergency situations when protocols are initiated, school administration and staff are responsible for keeping students and staff safe and secure. It is not possible for schools to respond to inquiries or send out information during the incident. The Board will keep parents/guardians and the media informed via its official communication channels such as its website, social media accounts and automated messaging as available. The Board may also use local media to help share information more broadly with the school community. Schools, with assistance from the Board, will send out additional information and next steps as required after the incident has ended.