Children have unique needs and vulnerabilities based on their dependence on adults, their limited mobility, and their developing communication skills. They need our protection and comfort.
Emergencies occur suddenly and can be overwhelming, but being prepared ensures that we’re ready to make decisions and take appropriate actions before, during, and after the emergency.
The terms “emergency” and “disaster” mean any event or situation that could pose a threat to the health or safety of children in our care. Emergencies include acts of nature such as a tornado, flood, or blizzard; accidents such as a severely injured child or hazardous material leak; public health events such as a pandemic; or manmade events such as an act or threat of violence. Disasters can strike anywhere at any time. In addition to natural disasters, the United States is also uniquely at high risk for shooter violence and manmade threats.
All staff members are trained in emergency preparedness and management annually. The safety and well-being of the children in our care and our staff always take priority over all other considerations. EEC requires us to have a written Emergency Management Plan with procedures for addressing potential emergencies. We keep the plan current. It meets the needs of all children in our care, including children who may need additional assistance during an evacuation (those with disabilities and others). The plan includes procedures for:
Effective crisis and security plans help us effectively manage the operation of First Circle during a crisis incident or medical emergency. Emergency preparedness is the ability to react appropriately by knowing what measures should be taken during the THREE PHASES of an emergency (before, during, after). The more prepared we are, the shorter the response and recovery time for any emergency.
The preparedness phase takes place BEFORE an emergency or disaster. It includes being informed, making plans, building emergency/disaster supplies kits, and training staff on emergency plans. Practicing scenarios and drills are a critical part of being prepared.
The response phase begins DURING the moments you are alerted to an impending emergency and when the emergency occurs. During this phase, we implement the plans that have been created for the preparedness phase.
The recovery phase occurs AFTER an emergency. It includes determining long-term plans for the center to return to regular operations. This is primarily the administration’s responsibility, but will require staff support.
A critical element to all three phases: COMMUNICATION
[see HEALTH & SAFETY section above]
EEC requires us to conduct evacuation drills every month in accordance with local fire department guidance, which is identified on posted evacuation plans in each classroom.
Each hazard has its own protocol, so it’s important to be familiar with the specific procedure for each one. Staff must refer to the What to do in Case of Emergency Posting in the classroom and the specific responsibilities in the Appendix.
Response may include some or all the following:
Most of our families need care to work at their jobs, so we remain open as much as possible. For safety reasons, extreme weather or a loss of utilities can prompt us to close the program. Site administration and executive administration collaborate on the decision to close a program.
We evacuate on site for situations such as fire, local hazmat situation, carbon monoxide etc.
In extreme circumstances (i.e.: chemical spill that cannot be contained, widespread fire, etc.) and in consultation with emergency personnel, we will evacuate to the school’s designated off-site location. This decision will be made based on the projected duration of the evacuation, and conditions at both locations at the time.
When we must evacuate the center, classroom teachers are responsible for:
Movement of children and staff back into the center due to a danger/emergency outside. An example of this is a suspicious or criminal act occurring nearby or a wild animal.
When a threat creates hazardous conditions outside the center, children and staff may need to shelter in place. This may also need to occur if it is not safe or there is insufficient time to move to a designated assembly area or relocation site. Sheltering in place involves keeping children and staff inside the building and securing the center for the immediate emergency. Examples of shelter-in-place situations include tornadoes, community violence, or a hazardous material spill.
The purpose of a lockdown is to keep children and staff inside the building by securing them in a classroom or other safe area due to an immediate threat inside the center. Lockdown procedures will be used in situations that may harm people inside the center, such as a shooting, hostage incident, intruder, trespassing, disturbance, or at the discretion of the director, designee or public safety personnel.
Being aware of hazards helps us prioritize them and prevent them or limit their effects. Several hazards could impact our program, ranging in risk from possible to extremely unlikely.
Severe weather may be predicted several days in advance in the case of hurricanes and winter storms, or within a few hours or less for tornadoes and other wind, rain, or ice storms. First Circle Administration will monitor the National Weather Service through multiple sources and keep you posted on all severe weather watches, warnings, and travel advisories
Our primary consideration when deciding whether to open is the safety of the children and our staff. We actively monitor weather to make the best decisions, and try to give families and staff advance warning, even if we sometimes need to change that decision at daybreak.
If we decide to close early, open late, or close for the entire day, we’ll update our Facebook page with the information, and notify you via Procare Engage.
If the timing of a storm is later in the day, we open on time and may close early if conditions will be dangerous.
Every thunderstorm produces lightning. On average, lightning kills 300 people and injures 80 people each year in the United States. Lightning is unpredictable; it can strike as far as 10 miles from any rainfall. Other thunderstorm-related dangers are tornadoes, strong winds, hail, wildfire, and flash flooding. If thunderstorms are forecasted, we will limit or cancel outdoor activities.
Heavy precipitation can cause floods. Floods can build over several days or occur rapidly as flash floods. First Circle schools are not located in a flood zone. Should a flood warning be in effect in the area, we will heed evacuation orders from public safety officials.
Tornadoes are occurring more frequently in Massachusetts. Weather fronts that can produce tornadoes may also generate severe rain, wind, and hail that can cause serious damage.
Hurricane season lasts from June through November
These events come with little to no warning and can include things like fire, gas leaks, utility disruption, or other environmental threats. Administration will assess each situation as it arises. We will make every effort to keep the center open, while ensuring compliance with regulations. If the event requires that we close, First Circle will reopen as soon as the situation is resolved.
Utilities may be disrupted during a storm or a more localized incident. We must be able to meet regulations and requirements for water use, heat, and power to remain open in such circumstances.
Fire is the most common of all business disasters. More than 4,000 Americans die and more than 20,000 are injured by fire each year.
A hazardous materials accident could occur in the form of a natural gas leak, spilling of a solvent, or on a roadway or factory or processor in the immediate area. In these cases, follow these procedures:
For treatment of minor injuries, see HEALTH & SAFETY above. There are some safety hazards we can prevent, and others we can only prepare for.
In the event of a serious injury (such as a seizure, a serious cut, or a possible broken bone), strictly follow the procedures outlined.
Most abducted children are taken by someone they know. It is essential that educators release children only to designated individuals and account for children at all times.
As mandated by the Board of Health, if an epidemic illness has been brought into the school and is spreading rapidly and uncontrollably, First Circle may be forced to close to air out the school or close classrooms to contain the spread of the disease. If the illness is believed to be part of an outbreak or disease cluster, First Circle will consult with the local Board of Health to receive further instructions. We may need to close our program temporarily without notice in the event of an epidemic or pandemic health crisis. We would consult with the local and state agencies responding to the emergency to make the decision. During an outbreak of infectious disease, follow these procedures:
Statistically, violent crimes are extremely unlikely to happen within First Circle. It is still important for us to be prepared for the improbable.
The following information is a general response to physical threats that may present at First Circle. This includes threats from outside the center, such as community violence, and inside the center, like an intruder. In every situation, Admin and staff members will evaluate the situation, and only address the threat when their safety is not compromised. If any person in the center does not feel safe in the situation, local emergency services (911) will be contacted, provided it can be done in a safe manner.
Every staff member is responsible for ensuring that all persons on the premises are authorized to be there. If you notice an unfamiliar unaccompanied person, ask that person how they can be helped. Should someone exhibit strange or aggressive behavior, report this to an administrator immediately. Each situation is different, and we will all do our best. There is no way to plan for every possibility, or how each of us will react.
While no one wants to think about the possibility of an active shooter in their school, it’s good practice to prepare for active shooter events.
Staff must be aware of their surroundings and be prepared to respond if they ever find themselves in such a situation to protect the children in the center and themselves. Active shooter situations are unpredictable, and the event often evolves quickly. Consult the What to do in an Emergency poster in the classroom.