School Safety and Procedures

At Onteora, student and staff safety and well-being are always our top priority. We do our best to anticipate and prevent any incidents, however, when they do happen, we are committed to transparent, honest, and timely communication with our families. 

Every school district in New York State, including Onteora, has five emergency procedures they follow:

  • Shelter-in-Place - Used to shelter students and staff inside the building.
    • For example, if a tornado were to occur outside the school, we would call a shelter-in-place. 
  • Hold-in-Place - Used to limit the movement of students and staff while dealing with short-term emergencies. 
    • For example, if a student were having a medical issue in the hallway and emergency services needed to get through, we would call a hold-in-place to avoid unnecessary commotion in the hallway.
  • Evacuate - Used to evacuate students and staff from the building. 
    • For example, if a pipe were to burst in the school, we would evacuate everyone to a predetermined off-site location. 
  • Lockout - Used to secure school buildings and grounds during incidents that pose an imminent concern outside of the school. 
    • For example, if police were looking for a suspect in the area, the schools would go into a lockout. 
  • Lockdown - Used to secure school buildings and grounds during incidents that pose an immediate threat of violence in or around the school.
    • For example, if a person has a weapon on school grounds, we would call a lockdown. 

Determining what types of incidents within the school community are at a level where a district-wide notification should occur holds an element of subjectivity. Some parents prefer to receive comprehensive updates, including notifications of unsubstantiated reports or incidents confined to a small number of students. The prevalence of social media and the ability for students to text “in the moment” means that information, although often not accurate, is shared immediately. Knowing this, here is our commitment to you:

  • We will communicate district-wide if there is an incident that is deemed an actual threat to safety/well-being. Example: a critical lockdown event, a building goes on lockout because there is police activity in the area, or there is a bus accident with injuries. 
  • We will communicate school-wide if there is a specific incident that we believe would cause parents of that building to be concerned for their child’s safety/well-being or may cause a child to have questions or concerns about their safety/wellbeing, even if no actual threat was present. Example: a building-specific anonymous threat is reported, including threats on social media, which are quickly deemed non-credible.
  • We will communicate as quickly as possible, but we always prioritize ensuring the safety/well-being of our students and staff and providing accurate details. In a true emergency, we will communicate multiple messages, sharing information as it becomes available. In situations where there is no actual threat, we will communicate as soon as possible, which includes having accurate and complete information to share.   
  • We will treat any reported threat seriously and deem it an actual threat until we have information to determine it is not. Please encourage your child to always report concerns to a trusted adult or for incidents involving the Middle School or High School, use our anonymous reporting system, found on the Middle School Webpage or the High School Webpage, or at Anonymous Alerts | Onteora CSD. 

Although we are committed to transparency, please understand that we cannot share discipline details for the individuals involved, as we are still obligated to protect the legal rights and privacy of our students and staff. Not sharing this information does not mean discipline was not administered. Also, if there is an active police investigation, we must be mindful of what information is shared.

Please also remember that first responder presence at a building does not indicate an emergency. Our first responders visit our schools regularly for drills, training, classroom visits, and more.


Victoria McLaren
Superintendent of Schools