Emergency Preparedness Reminders and Expectations

All Montgomery County public schools have a school emergency crisis plan. A crisis is an unpredictable, unplanned situation that requires an immediate response. Crises may include, but are not isolated to, bomb threats, criminal activity, accidents, fire, hazardous materials incidents, and weather-related incidents.


For well over a decade, Code Blue and Code Red procedures have been used to keep students safe during emergencies that occur on or near school grounds. New federal safety guidelines contained in the National Incident Management System (NIMS) have since been adopted by both Maryland and Montgomery County. The new procedures are called Lockdown, Evacuate, and Shelter (LES). These procedures have been developed as a response to an emer­gency situation at a school and are part of the school emergency preparedness plan.


It is vital that students, staff, and parents/guardians have an understanding of these procedures. Staff and students participate in drills for LES procedures at various times during the academic year. If parents/guardians are in the building during a drill or real emergency, they will be expected to know and follow these procedures. If the school must go under a shelter or lockdown, the reason is not shared with the students, but a phone message and/or email will be sent to parents/guardians via the ConnectEd system.


Lockdown is a term used to describe an emergency at an MCPS facility. Lockdown alerts staff that imminent danger exists inside or outside the building and requires moving to an immediate lockdown mode. It requires that all students are under adult supervision. Students and staff must move quickly to a securable location, remain quiet, and follow staff instructions. Each classroom is locked down, shades pulled, and teaching is stopped. Staff account for all students and then send the principal an email.


Evacuate is a term used to describe an emergency inside the school. It requires all students and staff to evacuate the building using either the fire evacuation alarm or a public announcement directed evacuation by the administration. 


Shelter is a term used to alert staff that an emergency exists at or near an MCPS facility and may be used in a weather-related emergency. It requires all students to be accounted for and under adult supervision inside the building. Instruction continues but student movement in the building is closely monitored. Exterior doors to the school are locked. Students in the portables are brought into the building in a weather related emergency, such as a tornado warning. Otherwise they are left in their classrooms.


Parent/Child Reunification Schools have plans in place to reunite students with their parents/guardians in the event of an emergency/crisis at a school. This process will ensure the safe and orderly reuniting of students and parents/guardians. Schools will ensure they use a three-step approach.


Step 1. Identify parents using a source of identification.

Step 2. Identify student location in school and sign out student.

Step 3. Unite student and parent/guardian.


Parents will be informed about reunification plans via the ConnectEd system


MCPS utilizes a comprehensive emergency/crisis response plan that incorporates the concepts and structure of the national Incident Command System (ICS) for responding to a school system emergency/crisis situation.


The system-wide plan – MCPS Emergency Response Plan – provides for the various supports necessary to manage any type of emergency that may occur within the school district.


Stephen Knolls has developed a comprehensive emergency/crisis plan that fits our individual needs. We have an on-site emergency team (OSET), including WCC and parent representatives. Our OSET members receive on-going training in emergency preparedness and crisis management to assist administrators when responding to an emergency/crisis situation. The principal has assigned specific duties and responsibilities to all staff and members of OSET. The alignment of emergency response duties under the structure of the ICS allows for a seamless integration between the Montgomery County Government Response Plan and the local school emergency/crisis plan.



Shelter-in-place simply means that in certain emergency situations, it will be necessary to immediately secure students and staff indoors.


  • Wait for further instructions from Montgomery County Emergency Services / MCPS / Administration

Code Blue

  • Administration activates CODE BLUE
  • Students/staff/visitors must be accounted for and under supervision
  • Staff documents attendance
  • Classroom instruction continues
  • Hall passes may be restricted
  • Administration will direct class changes
  • Wait for further instructions from Montgomery County Emergency Services / MCPS / Administration

The nature and duration of the shelter-in-place will be determined by the emergency situation, public safety officials and/or MCPS officials.


Upon notification, the following immediate and simultaneous actions will take place:

  • Initiate Code Blue (enhanced)
  • Assemble OSET members (and other available staff as needed)
  • HVAC emergency ventilation shut-down
  • Secure and lock all exterior doors & windows
  • Announcements will be made regarding Code Blue/Shelter-in-Place
  • Ignore fire alarm; establish fire watch
  • Disregard bells
  • OSET will supervise movement in hallways (restrooms, health room, etc)
  • Students/staff outdoors will immediately be brought into the building
  • People arriving during the initial phase should be brought into building
  • Individuals arriving after the initial shelter-in-place will be directed to a safe area of refuge by public safety officials.
  • Access to any potentially exposed individuals will be denied until public safety officials advise differently.
  • Hold students in current locations until best course of action can be taken
  • Communications with public safety & MCPS officials maintained
  • Announcement will be made when shelter-in-place is concluded
  • Prepare for parent/child reunification

Chemical, Biological, Radiological Incidents

A chemical incident is defined as the release of toxic industrial chemicals and/or other agents that are capable of causing bodily harm or death.

A biological incident is defined as the release of bacteria, viruses, and/or toxins that are capable of causing bodily harm or death.

A radiological incident is defined as the release, exposure to, and/or dispersal of radioactive materials that are capable of causing bodily harm or death.

Notification of a chemical, biological or radiological incident may come via:

  • First-hand observation/knowledge of an immediate hazard
  • Public safety personnel
  • MCPS officials
  • Media sources

Shelter-in-Place / Enhanced Code Blue put in place 

Potential exposure issues: 

  • Notify office immediately
  • Individuals who have been exposed while in any classrooms should remain in place until fire and rescue personnel provide assistance.
  • If there is a reason to believe that an individual has been exposed to a hazardous material, they should be isolated until receiving further directions from public safety.

Medication Policy

Department of Health and Human Services

School Health Services

The MCPS Shelter-In-Place policy may be used for any type of emergency where it is necessary to assemble and secure students and staff indoors for a period which might extend beyond the school day. Ordinarily, School Health Services staff accept medication orders and medications which are administered to students during normal school hours by a registered nurse or delegated by the nurse to a health room technician (Certified Nursing Assistant) for whom they provide clinical oversight.

During a Shelter-in-Place situation, certain students may need medications to be administered that are normally given by parents outside of the school day. DHHS School Health Services staff will accept physician orders and medications from parents/guardians for students with diabetes, cardiac conditions, seizures, asthma and other conditions where ongoing medication is needed to assure the student's health and safety.

  • A physician's order is required.
  • Medication must be in the original container with a pharmacy label.
  • A two-day supply of medication is adequate.
  • SHS staff may only accept orders and medications which can be delegated to unlicensed individuals.
  • Nurses will work with parents and physicians to develop an emergency medication plan for students with special circumstances.
  • Certain students who have principal and parent permission to self-carry medications are asked to provide physician orders to School Health Services staff.