Emergency Readiness

We recommend you register with Notify NYC to receive information about emergency events. It is also important that you create a NYC Schools Account (NYCSA) to receive “real-time” emergency notification from school emergencies. You can call 311 for additional information about a school during an emergency.

General Response Protocol

Schools train and drill all staff and students in the General Response Protocol, which describes what to do in an Evacuation, Shelter-In, or Lockdown. The training is tailored for different grade levels so that students aren’t upset by the information.

Schools also sends home a copy of the General Response Protocol, to help you talk to your children about emergency readiness in school.

The General Response Protocol gives schools instructions to follow when an emergency happens. It uses common language to identify the steps to take until first responders arrive.

In every incident, school administrators will first call 911. Then they will look at the unique situation and decide:

  • whether to lock down (soft or hard), shelter-in, or evacuate.
  • if any instructions should be changed to fit the specific circumstances.


Soft Lockdown: No Imminent Danger

Administrative teams, Building Response Teams, and School Safety Agents will meet at the designated command post for further direction.

Hard Lockdown: Imminent Danger

No one should sweep the school in a hard lockdown. All individuals, including School Safety Agents will take appropriate lockdown action and await the arrival of first responders. In a Hard Lockdown, there may be instances where additional action is needed to minimize the danger to individuals. Adults and students will also need to consider all available options during an incident. They may need to run out of the building to remain safe and contact 911 if they are in an area that allows them to do so. They may need to hide (remain in lockdown) to ensure that they are behind a locked door and remain silent, or if faced with an imminent threat in their room or office, they may need to confront their attacker. 

In Any Lockdown

  • A Public Address (PA) announcement made two times:
    • Attention: We are now in soft/ hard lockdown. Take proper action.
  • Students are trained to move out of sight and keep silent.
  • Teachers are trained to:
    • Check the hallway outside of their classrooms for students, lock classroom doors, and turn off the lights.
    • Move out of sight and keep silent
    • Wait for first responders to open door, or for the message:
      • The Lockdown has been lifted
      • followed by specific directions
    • Take attendance and account for missing students by contacting the main office.


  • Often, the fire alarm system alerts staff and students to start an evacuation.
  • However, there may also be times when a Public Address announcement starts an evacuation.
    • Announcements will begin with “Attention” followed by specific directions
    • They are made two times.
    • Students are trained to:
      • Leave belongings behind
      • Form a single file line
        • In cold weather, students should be reminded to take their coats.
          • However, students wearing exercise or gym clothes will not return to the locker room.
        • Students without winter coats will be taken to safe, warm location as quickly as possible.
    • Teachers are trained to:
      • Grab evacuation folder (with attendance sheet and Assembly cards).
      • Lead students to evacuation location as identified on Fire Drill Posters.
      • Always listen for additional directions
      • Take attendance and account for students.
      • Report injuries, problems, or missing students to school staff and first responders using Assembly Card method.


  • There is a Public Address announcement made two times:
    • Attention. This is a shelter-in. Secure the exit doors.
  • The Shelter-In directive stays in effect until it is ended by a Public Address announcement
    • The Shelter- In has been lifted
  • Students are trained to:
    • Remain inside the building
    • Conduct business as usual
    • Respond to specific staff directions
  • Teachers are trained to:
    • Be more aware of their surroundings
    • Conduct business as usual

BRT members, floor wardens, and Shelter- In staff will secure all exits and report to specific post assignments


The Hold response calls for no movement throughout the building until the “all clear” is given. While in Hold response, instruction and office tasks may continue as normal but no one may leave the room they are in until the Hold has ended.

Hold is initiated when there is a condition inside the school building, and the immediate need to address the condition requires staff, students, and visitors to remain in place and conduct business as usual until the “All Clear” is announced.

Hold might be initiated to manage an incident in the building that does not place the school community in danger, or whenever directed by First Responders Hold does not replace a soft or hard lockdown.

The Building Response Team and School Safety Agents will sweep the building. Anyone found in the restrooms, hallways, stairwells, or the lobby will be taken to a designated area until the “All Clear” announcement is made.

Announcements must be made to remind everyone to disregard any “end of class” signals. No one may enter or leave their room or office until the announcement is made indicating that the “All Clear” has been issued and the building can return to regular operation.

During a Hold, anyone entering the school must be informed of the Hold. If students are returning from lunch, they must be escorted to a designated area where they can remain, with proper supervision, until the “All Clear” announcement is made.