In the event of inclement weather or an emergency situation, the Puyallup School District takes every precaution to ensure the safety of students. District staff works continually with local police, sheriff, fire, and emergency management teams to improve and fine-tune district emergency plans.
Due to situations beyond our control, sometimes there is a need to close schools or modify their start times. The reasons for this are varied, but will most likely be due to ice, snow or power outages (due to downed power lines or utility brown-out for a given area). Closures typically involve the whole school district. However, occasionally there is a need to close down an individual school due to an isolated problem.
The district has a centralized Emergency Operations Center (EOC), and each school site has a building EOC. These EOC teams have developed plans for and hold drills on a variety of crises including fire, earthquakes, Sheltering-In-Place, intruders, and lahar (valley schools). As part of these emergency plans, there are trained staff members in the schools to respond to emergencies. Depending on the type of emergency, decisions affecting schools will be made by district officials in collaboration with the Pierce County Sheriff and Puyallup Police Department.
Please do not call the school, transportation department, or district office. If the phone lines are working, they will be used for emergency communication. The district will communicate decisions to parents via SchoolMessenger Communicate, and sometimes radio and television.
In the event of inclement weather or an emergency situation, the Puyallup School District takes every precaution to ensure the safety of students.
Members of the Communications and Information Department will use three platforms to communicate directly with parents and community using the following the plan:
Once a decision has been made to delay classes or close schools, parents will receive a text AND an email message with the use of SchoolMessenger Communicate. This automated parent notification system can rapidly alert parents and is a direct form of communication to all parents. The system is programmed to send an email message to the address listed on their child’s enrollment card. For those who have opted in to the text messaging service, an alert will be sent to the primary number listed on their child’s enrollment card.
The school district will keep the community informed through the Public Schools Emergency Communications System on local radio stations, TV stations, and Internet sites. If the Puyallup School District is not mentioned during the news broadcast, school will be open with buses operating on as normal a schedule as possible.
The landing page for the PSD website is maintained daily and includes banner stories celebrating Puyallup students and staff. It also includes several new stories which provide timely information for parents and community members. In the event of an emergency or change to the school schedule, a notice highlighted in red will appear on the PSD website landing page.
Please note – for lockdowns, school delays, or school closures, the district will no longer:
• Contact parents through a phone call (robo call) - Texting and email will be used instead.
• Post information on social media - These platforms don’t ensure direct contact since not all parents use social media.
Simply put, PSD emergency communications will comprise of the following:
- Email and text messages to parents
- Local radio and television stations
- District website
All schools have comprehensive plans that help them prepare for, respond to, and recover from all types of emergencies that might occur in the district.
Depending on the type of emergency, staff are trained and follow specific safety procedures used during an emergency. Every situation is unique, so school staff may adjust their response to address student safety first.
Here is what it means when a school implements one of the following procedures in response to a safety issue or emergency:
Full Lockdown: an emergency procedure that keeps students in classrooms with doors locked and prevents people from leaving or entering a building.
All exterior AND interior doors locked
Turn off all lights
Restrict viewing into the room by pulling shades and/or covering windows
Maintain silence as much as possible
Maintain lockdown status until the “all clear” is announced
Modified Lockdown: takes similar precautions, but allows movement within the building.
All exterior doors locked
Classroom and inside school activities may continue as normal
Used to get students and staff out of the building by a predetermined route and assembled in a predetermined area.
Leave the building immediately in a calm, orderly manner
Go to the designated area
Stay with students, keeping them together
Account for students and assist persons with special needs
Follow all instructions given by emergency personnel
Shelter In Place
If a hazardous material is released in your area, authorities may request the school to “shelter-in-place.”
Stay indoors or move inside immediately
Close and lock windows and doors
Move to your designated shelter area
Seal off the room from outside air to the extend possible.
Stay calm and quiet
Wait for the “all-clear” from authorities
In the rare instance that students are transported to an off-site location due to an emergency, families will be notified of where and when to pick up your child. We will notify you using our emergency communication systems and the contact information you have previously provided to the school.
Each valley school is assigned to a for sheltering and managing student-parent relocation. Families should report as soon as practicable to the reunification site. Upon arriving parent/guardians will be guided through the reunification process by school and district staff, and depending on the situation, emergency response personnel.
It is important that families make plans to reunite with their children at the site, not at their attendance school, so that the schools can evacuate quickly and safely.
Here is information about what to expect when picking up your student at a reunification site:
You will be asked to show photo ID
Have patience and follow all directions by school staff
If you are unable to retrieve your child, the school can only release your student to someone who is on the emergency contact list you submitted to the school, or for grades 7-12 only someone they feel comfortable leaving with as authorized by the guardian and submitted to the school on the district enrollment form.
Living near Mount Rainier has potential hazards that include eruption, lava or ash fall and mudflows known as lahars. City of Puyallup Emergency Management, Pierce County Emergency Management, the U.S. Geologic Survey and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have joined together to create a plan for responding to any Mount Rainier emergency that may occur. The Puyallup School District has been an active partner in planning and preparing for the evacuation of schools located in the valley in the event a lahar evacuation was necessary.
What is the district response plan for a volcanic eruption or lahar?
In conjunction with regional Emergency Management Services, the District will receive immediate notification of volcanic activity at Mt. Rainier. Each school will be contacted so that emergency support and response by students and staff can be initiated. In Puyallup, emergency sirens will sound throughout the community to alert all residents to the hazard.
All valley schools will immediately evacuate. It is anticipated that the county will receive advance indications of increased volcanic activity at the mountain and that the valley schools may already be operating in alternative modes prior to any eruption or lahar flow.
What is the lahar evacuation plan?
The current plan includes a provision for evacuating students from valley schools via pedestrian routes. The plan was developed in coordination with law enforcement agencies as a part of the larger county emergency response. The county plan includes diverting vehicle traffic and restricting traffic flow to northbound routes and either east- or westbound traffic. These traffic restrictions will prevent the public from driving into the mudflow as well as limiting the district’s ability to provide bus transportation to students in the valley.
How much time is there to evacuate?
Experts predict that the valley floor will fill to a depth of thirty feet with mud and debris. It is estimated that there is approximately (after the lahar alert) 60-90 minutes for safe evacuation from the valley.
Where will students and staff shelter?
Each valley school is assigned to a designated district school or support location for sheltering and managing student-parent relocation. Families should report as soon as practicable to the student-parent reunification location. It is important that families make plans to reunite with their children at the relocation schools, not at their attendance school, so that the schools can evacuate quickly and safely.
Be Prepared for a School Emergency
- Ensure that your child's emergency contact information is accurate and current.
- Become familiar with your school's emergency communications procedures. The district is committed to providing accurate and timely information in the event of an emergency.
In Case of a School Emergency
- Although your first reaction may be to call or rush to your child's school, please follow the tips below.
- DO NOT call or rush to your child's school. Phone lines and staff are needed for emergency response efforts.
- DO NOT phone your child. It may not always be safe for students or staff to answer incoming calls during an emergency or lockdown.
- Tune in to local TV/Radio stations for official school news alerts.
- Rely only on Official communication from the district, school or public safety officials.
- Listen for official information regarding reunification with your child.
The Puyallup School District phone number is 253-841-1301.