Safety & Security
Washington County Public Schools is committed to providing a safe environment for students, staff and visitors. We work closely with safety officials - police, fire, emergency medical services and public health - in order to ensure our schools are well prepared for an emergency. We have developed a comprehensive plan that covers a wide variety of emergencies and serves as a guide to help staff and our public safety partners respond swiftly should a crisis occur in our schools.
Should a school emergency occur, a parent can get important information and directions by doing one or all of the following:
- Check your phones and email for WCPS Connect messages
- Tune into the local television and radio stations for news alerts
- Visit the WCPS website and Facebook page
The information included on this page provides an overview of the many safety measures that WCPS has implemented and that can serve as a guide for parents, students and staff should there be a school emergency or if schools are closed/cancelled due to inclement weather.
Please report any safety concerns you may have to your school principal.
Safety Measures in Our Schools
Parents should be assured to know that the safety measures in place through WCPS are extensive. The school system’s Safety and Security Specialist/Risk Manager works diligently to ensure that the system-wide emergency plan is current and that all staff members are prepared to respond to a wide variety of school emergencies. Each of our schools has numerous safety measures in place to provide a safe learning environment for our students. Some of the safety measures that can be found in schools include:
- A crisis response team with selected members that have participated in training to ensure appropriate response on a variety of potential school emergencies.
- All exterior school doors are locked with key-card, buzzer/intercom, and video camera systems in place.
- Closed circuit television (CCTV) installed in many schools.
- Emergency radios to receive updates on emergency situation.
- Entrances monitored during school hours.
- Visitors sign-in and wear an I.D. badge. Visitors are asked to arrive early and be prepared to identify themselves. We thank parents and visitors for their patience.
- All principals and key administrators have cell phones in order to assist in emergency communications.
- A minimum supply of two-way radios to assist in emergency communications.
- Intrusion alarms in many schools.
WCPS Partners with Public Safety Agencies
School staff works closely with the appropriate local public safety agencies, such as police, fire, emergency medical services and public health to effectively deal with a wide range of crises. Specifically, WCPS has partnered with Washington County Emergency Services, the Hagerstown Police Department, the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, the Washington County Health Department and other agencies in planning and training activities to promote emergency preparedness throughout WCPS and the community. Each school has coverage from a school resource officer. More information about the role and authority of school resource officers can be found under Documents to the right of this page.
How Parents Can Prepare for an Emergency
As a parent, there are three simple steps parents can take to prepare for a school emergency.
- Provide accurate emergency contact information to your child's school and notify the school if it changes. That will ensure that you will receive timely information on your phone and by email via WCPS Connect.
- Communicate with your child about being prepared for emergencies. This includes taking drills, such as fire drills, seriously. It also includes reporting when unidentified visitors are on school property or reporting anything that is out of the ordinary or unusual in the school day to an adult at school.
Communications During a School Emergency
During an emergency, it is critical that parents receive important information and directions from school officials before going to the school or scene of an emergency. You can be confident that accurate and timely information will be released to parents, the public and the media during any significant emergencies.
Evacuation or Lockdown
Each school has a procedure for helping parents locate their child(ren). Parents will be directed to a specific location where they will be required to show proper identification. Remember, a student can only be released to an adult that is documented as an emergency contact. If you are a non-custodial parent, you must be listed with your child's emergency contact information as a guardian and show proper identification.
Staff Training for Emergencies is Ongoing
As a parent, you should feel confident to know that we provide crisis management training to school administrators. Each school has key staff members with assigned roles and responsibilities to perform during an emergency. The school system’s emergency response plan is modeled on the National Incident Management System (NIMS) that has been developed by the Department of Homeland Security. In addition, every school conducts emergency drills throughout the school year so that students and staff are aware of the most effective and safe emergency responses.
Emotional Support for Students During Times of Crisis
It is important that our students feel safe in our schools, especially after a crisis has occurred. Should there be a need, the school system provides psychological services and support to students and staff. These services are provided by school psychologists and/or school counselors certified by the Maryland State Department of Education. School or system administrators can activate the school system’s Crisis Team to respond to schools or may use some of the team members to address specific situations, if needed. The crisis response team will provide assistance to students to help them understand what has happened and to help them cope with their emotions and reactions.
Closings/Cancellations Due to Weather Conditions
In the interest of student safety, decisions to close schools, delay school openings, or dismiss early due to inclement weather conditions are made by the Superintendent. Radio and TV stations are notified as soon as a decision is made. Please use the following resources to confirm the status of school operations should there be inclement weather conditions.
- WCPS website, Facebook page and Twitter
- Local radio and television stations will be notified
- Email and text messages will be sent and at times phone calls will be made via WCPS Connect, and updated information will be posted in the WCPS app, a free download from the iTunes Store and Google Play by searching for Washington County PS
- Call the WJEJ Weather Line at 301-797-9797
If the normal school day hours are affected with school opening later, closing earlier or being cancelled, the regularly scheduled programs and activities that take place during the day will change. Specifically, in a delayed opening, modified kindergarten and pre-kindergarten schedules are used, and on an early dismissal schedule, after school activities are canceled. Check with the school office or the Public Information Office for specific with questions regarding activities or schedules on these days.
Should school be canceled due to inclement weather or as a result of other conditions, days at the end of the annual calendar or built into the school year will be used.