Back to School Message about School Safety Protocols

Dear Cohoes Families,

The safety of our students and staff continues to be the highest priority of the Cohoes City School District. We maintain close working relationships with the police and fire departments, and regularly practice safety drills throughout the year. With all students now back in our buildings, we wanted to take the opportunity to review the district’s emergency response.

Emergency Response System:

  • Shelter-In-Place is used to shelter students and staff inside the building.
  • Hold-In-Place is used to limit movement of students and staff while dealing with short-term emergencies.
  • Evacuation is used to evacuate students and staff from the building when leaving the building is the safest alternative.
  • Lockout is used to secure school buildings and grounds during incidents that pose an imminent concern outside of school. Students who are outdoors are brought inside. All exterior doors are locked and windows are closed and locked. In a lockout, classroom instruction continues as normal. Anyone wishing to enter or leave the building must first be cleared by a building administrator and/or police.
  • Lockdown is used to secure school buildings and grounds during incidents that pose an immediate threat of violence in or around the school.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about school lockdowns

What is a lockdown?

A lockdown is the confinement of people inside secured rooms for safety measures. It is used when a serious threat exists to the campus that requires students, staff and visitors to remain in a locked area for safety. A lockdown may be ordered by law enforcement, the school principal or any school staff who identify a potential threat.

What happens during a lockdown?

All students, staff and visitors report immediately to the nearest classroom, gym or cafeteria. All doors are locked and secured. All cell phones are silenced. Everyone remains silent. Rooms remain locked until unlocked by police.

Who is in charge during a lockdown?

Once law enforcement arrive on site, they are in charge and the district must follow their directives. We work closely and collaboratively with the Cohoes Police Department to respond to the threat and keep students and staff safe.

Can I pick up my child during a lockdown?

We understand that the first reaction of most parents is to come to their child’s school. However, we ask that parents and guardians wait until we advise them that it is safe to pick up their child. Parents arriving unadvised to the school may actually hinder the emergency response and could jeopardize their own safety.

Can I call the school during a lockdown?

During a lockdown, staff are not able to answer incoming phone calls as they are following the same safety procedures as the students. During other emergency responses, callers may not be able to get through to the office because of an increase in the volume of calls or because staff are helping to ensure students and staff are safe.

What if my child calls or texts me during a lockdown?

In the majority of lockdown scenarios, we advise that students and staff remain as quiet as possible and not use their phones. However, if you are contacted by your child, encourage them to remain calm and to follow the directions of teachers and staff.

How will parents and guardians know what is happening?

The district will notify parents as soon as possible about the lockdown through ParentSquare as well as the district website This is why it is vitally important to keep your contact information up-to-date.

Should I believe everything I see on social media during a lockdown?

Emergency situations are fluid and always changing. Information you are getting from other sources, such as the news media and personal Facebook pages may be inaccurate.

When will a lockdown end?

Everyone will remain in lockdown mode until law enforcement has determined the threat no longer exists. Police will then go door to door unlocking classrooms and notifying students and staff that the lockdown has been lifted. After the lockdown ends, normal school activities may resume or students may be released to their parents or other authorized adults according to the school’s release procedures in the safety plan.

Additional information can be found in our District Wide Safety Plan which is located on our website. Our District Wide Safety Team, composed of Board of Education members, administrators, teachers, support staff, parents, and safety personnel, as well as Mayor Bill Keeler, Police Chief Todd Waldin and Fire Chief Joseph Fahd, meets throughout the year to review and revise the plan as needed.

The start of a new school year is also a good time to remind your children to report on any observations they make of things that “just don’t feel right” in school or on social media to you or a staff member. 

If you have any questions about the emergency response protocols in your child’s building, please contact the building principal. As always, please feel free to contact me at any time. 



Peggy O’Shea



Preparing our students for success in tomorrow’s world.

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