Cambridge Public Schools Emergency Procedures

Cambridge Public Schools Emergency Procedures
Posted on 04/26/2016

The 2015-16 School Year has seen an increase in bomb threats and other threats of violence nationwide and in our city. Following are some key details of the safety and security procedures that are in place in Cambridge Public Schools.

General Emergency Preparedness
Emergency Preparedness Plans were developed in 2014 and are in the process of being reviewed and revisited. 

On an ongoing basis, schools conduct fire drills and lockdown drills, and Principals periodically review emergency procedures including procedures for a full evacuation. Safety and Security personnel are required to maintain ongoing training in emergency preparedness, and are deployed from their office at the high school to any other school affected by an emergency or threat. 

PlanNear the door of every classroom and office in CPS, a clear plastic wall pocket has been installed and should contain a small emergency procedures guide covering topics that include: Intruder, Shelter-In-Place, Lockdown/Secure & Hold, Evacuation, Hazardous Material Spill, Bomb Threat, Mission Person/Abduction, Fire/Explosion, Medical Emergency. The Principal's Office has a lengthy guide with checklists and decision trees for handling each emergency type. Depending on the severity of the situation, Cambridge Police are also deployed.

Please review your school's emergency preparedness information for families.

Bomb Threats
With the recent increase in bomb threats, families have frequently asked for more information on our bomb threat assessment procedures. A flow chart contained in our Emergency Procedures manual includes the following steps:

Immediate Response - When a threat is discovered or received, the immediate response includes:

  • Call 911 for Police
  • Notify Chief Operating Officer, Principal, and building-based Safety Team
  • Police and Safety/Security Personnel arrive on scene
  • If there appears to be an imminent threat to safety, evacuation procedures will be initiated.

Emergency Threat Assessment - The investigation team (CPS Safety/Security, Cambridge Police, supported by custodial staff familiar with the building) will quickly analyze the threat details to develop an initial assessment of the likelihood that a threat could be credible. Recent information from surrounding school districts will also be considered. Any indication that it could be credible would result in emergency evacuation of the building.

Even if the threat is likely to be non-credible, the investigation team will conduct a sweep of the building to complete the evidence collection process. Phone, email, and other records and evidence will also be collected. 

Communication Procedures
Based on feedback received from our teachers and families, we will do our best to communicate as much information as is known, as early as possible in this process. Our first priority will be immediate safety concerns, but we will strive to take the following steps:

  • A voicemail call to all staff and families as soon as possible after the threat is known. If appropriate, an “all clear” voicemail call will also be made after the incident is concluded. 
  • Email to staff, families, and community partners (when possible), as soon as possible after the threat is received.
  • Information and updates provided as needed online and via our Mobile App and Social Media throughout the day.

While it is exceedingly unlikely that threats will be acted upon, it is not unheard of. We therefore take every threat seriously

Response to False Threats
When a threat is determined to be a hoax, we cooperate with local and federal investigations into the source of the false threat. Making a false bomb threat is a federal offense~that carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison, $250,000 fine, or both.  

Individuals who would like further details of the threat assessment process may request this information from the Chief Operating Officer's office. We hope this information provides enough detail to reassure the community that we take every threat seriously and will work hard to maintain the safety and security of our school communities.