Andalib Khelgati

Evanston/Skokie District 65 administrators are revising the district’s crisis management plans to better coordinate with police and fire departments, enhance preparedness and improve communication.

At the Evanston/Skokie District 65 School board meeting Monday night, Assistant Superintendent Andalib Khelghati reviewed existing emergency plans and described changes anticipated for the 2018-19 school year.

Current crisis management plans involve both school crisis management teams and a district safety team.

“Safety is preparedness,” says Khelghati, which is the purpose of the drills, protocols and exercises.

When the police or fire department arrives, Khelgati said, “they want to know that everyone’s been accounted for.”

Routine safety practices include keeping exterior doors locked, all staff wearing IDs and a check-in process for guests including visitor passes.

Each school’s emergency preparation includes blueprints of the school, evacuation plans and list of personnel, so that first responders can identify rooms and people.

Khelgati adds that there are also plans to account for “students who need extra assistance, including language.”

All schools conduct various color-coded drills to comply with state and district requirements:

  • Three fire drills per year, called Code Yellow, include exit routes for each student, a location for gathering safely and attendance protocols for quickly determining the location of any student not within their class.
  • Bus evacuations to teach students how to properly and safely exit a school bus are conducted once a year.
  • Disaster or weather safety drills, called Code White, are held once each year, with a goal to moving students to designated locations away from exterior windows and doors.
  • Code Red intruder lockdown drills are conducted once per year, with police department supervision, to keep everyone safe and accounted for.
  • A twice-yearly reverse evacuation drill has students go back inside the building and away from an outside threat, such as a tornado.

Revisions to the crisis management plan will include:

  • Reviewing and updating the code system to better match that of emergency responders
  • Distribution of new walkie-talkies
  • Emergency access protocols and fobs to make it easier for police and fire officials to access locked down buildings
  • Use of a new app, called Crisis Go, to improve communication between schools, district officials and first responders
  • Preparation of a Parent Emergency Guide

In addition, all staff will be trained by the Evanston Police Department in the ALICE model (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate) to help expand appropriate actions for adults in the event of an active shooter situation.

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