Crisis Plan

  • Introduction

    A complete Crisis Plan can be found the in WGHS Crisis Plan Manual. An electronic copy will be emailed to administration, librarians, Police Resource Officer, Crisis Response Team and department chairs at the beginning of the year. A binder is available in the principal’s office and all assistant principal’s offices. 

    Planning and preparation are essential to effectively prevent and respond to the many types of emergencies which schools face.

    There are many types and levels of emergencies that may include:

    • School fire or explosion
    • Tornado or severe wind storm
    • Earthquake
    • Accidents, serious injury, illness or death
    • Bomb threat
    • Intruders in the building
    • Active Shooter
    • Weapons or handguns
    • Assaults

     Whatever the crisis, how we handle our responsibilities following any of these or other similar occurrences can determine if lives are saved, if severe trauma is avoided, and how the school community is affected.


    1. To prevent a crisis by providing students with violence prevention education, positive discipline, and the knowledge of how and to whom they can report concerns.
    2. To identify students who may be at-risk for problems with violence or who may be harassing other students AND provide follow-up resources as needed.
    3. To provide the necessary training and practice for students and staff to be prepared to respond to a crisis.
    4. To provide an organized, systematic but flexible response to crisis.
    5. To provide consolation and follow-up resources after a crisis to students, parents, and staff.


    1. Prevention and Preparation
    2. Emergency Response
    3. Debriefing and Recovery

    A key to a good crisis plan is the CRISIS RESPONSE TEAM. The purpose of this team is to make sure that all of the three components listed above are carried out. This team will meet regularly to update this CRISIS PLAN and will be the primary group to evaluate, make decisions, and implement a response to a crisis.

    We strongly encourage staff to communicate with the administration and the members of the Crisis Response Team regarding concerns about this plan so that we can continue to update and improve our plan.


    School Crisis Response Team—WGHS school administrators and building personnel assigned to coordinating tasks for emergencies.

    District Crisis Response Team—Superintendent, Community Relations Director, Assistants to the Superintendent, and other administrators as needed.

    District Crisis Counseling Team—District counseling and school social work staff members who provide crisis recovery. 

    Incident Commander—Person in charge--usually the principal or person identified in chain of command, if principal is unavailable.

    Command Post—the place from which the Incident Commander (I.C.) constantly manages the emergency. The I.C. remains at the command post unless delegating someone to take over. The I.C. constantly assesses the situation and determines resources and strategies to handle the incident.

    Evacuation—whenever the emergency is such that students and staff need to leave the building for their own safety. The evacuation plan for fire will be followed unless directed otherwise.

    Reunification—getting students reunited with parents in an orderly fashion. A Parent Request Gate and a Student Release Gate will usually be established.

    Shelter-in-Place—the purpose of “Shelter-in-Place” is to move students away from view through doors or windows. It is interchangeable with “lockdown”. Classroom doors are closed and locked if possible. Students sit on the floor of an internal wall of the classroom so the room appears empty from the doorway or windows. Specific information about the emergency will be given over the PA whenever possible.

    Active Shooter—a person is in the building carrying a weapon and is actively shooting. There is more discretion given to staff and students during this time to respond in a way that is best for their location and situation including hiding (shelter-in-place), running or fighting, if necessary.


    The School Crisis Response Team is an essential element of a good crisis plan in terms of preparation and response. Each emergency will have some factors which cannot be anticipated. The Crisis Response Team allows for flexibility of any plan to adapt to the situation at hand.

    Incident Commander: Jon Clark | Alternate: John Raimondo

    Communications Manager: Angela Thompson | Alternate: Cliff Ice

    Crisis Counseling Manager: Karen Verstraete | Alternate: Joe Hepfinger

    Reunification Manager: Jerry Collins | Alternate: Shiree Yeggins

    Traffic Manager: John E. Thomas | Alternate: Dwight Kirksey/Dempsey

    Police Resource Officer: Officer Drew Baker

    Building Liaison: Ron Davis/Byron Jimerson

    School Nurse: Rachel Huertas

    The following Chain of Command should be followed in any circumstance when the principal is out of the building.

    Chain of Command:

    1. Matt Irvin, Principal
    2. John E. Thomas, Assistant Principal
    3. Shiree Yeggins, Assistant Principal
    4. Angela Thompson, Assistant Principal
    5. Dwight Kirksey, Assistant Principal
    6. Jerry Collins, Athletic/Activities Director
    7. Cliff Ice, Athletic/Activities Assistant Director
    8. Then as appointed by Superintendent or, if not available, Assistant Superintendent

    Philosophy for Identifying the Early Warning Signs of School Violence

    Educators and families can increase their ability to recognize early warning signs by establishing close, caring, and supportive relationships with youth—getting to know them well enough to be aware of their needs, feelings, attitudes, and behavior patterns. This is the focus of our Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS) program.

    Unfortunately, there is a real danger that early warning signs will be misinterpreted. Educators and parents—and in some cases, students—can ensure that the early warning signs are not misinterpreted by using several significant principals to better understand them. These principals include:

    • Do no harm. First and foremost, the intent should be to get help for a youth early. The early warning signs should not be used as rationale to exclude, isolate, or punish a youth.
    • Avoid stereotypes. Stereotypes can interfere with—and even harm—the school community’s ability to identify and help youth. It is important to be aware of false cues—including race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, cognitive or academic ability, or physical appearance.
    • View warning signs within a developmental context.
    • Report incidents of harassment, intimidation and bullying to an administrator so the administrator can follow up with the victim and perpetrator. 
    • Understand that youth typically exhibit multiple warning signs. Research confirms that most children who are troubled and at risk for aggression exhibit more than one warning sign, repeatedly, and with increasing intensity over time. Thus, it is important not to overreact to single signs, words, or actions.

    Staff should discuss any significant concerns about a student with the assistant principal, counselor, or school social worker. A Care Team referral might also be appropriate (see information under Care Team). If a staff member believes that there may be imminent violence, he/she should report it to a principal immediately.

    Early Warning Signs

    It is not always possible to predict behavior that will lead to violence. However, educators and parents—and sometimes students—can recognize certain early warning signs. In some situations and for some youth, different combinations of events, behaviors, and emotions may lead to aggressive rage or violent behavior toward self or others. A good rule of thumb is to assume that these warning signs, especially when they are presented in combination, indicate a need for further analysis to determine an appropriate intervention.

    We know from research that most children who become violent toward self or others feel rejected and psychologically victimized.

    None of the signs alone are sufficient for predicting aggression and violence. Moreover, it is inappropriate—and potentially harmful—to use the early warning signs as a checklist against which to match individual children. Rather, the early warning signs are offered only as an aid in identifying and referring children who may need help. We must ensure that staff and students only use the early warning signs for identification and referral purposes—only trained professionals should make diagnoses in consultation with the child’s parent(s) or guardian.

    The following early warning signs are presented with the following qualifications: They are not equally significant and they are not presented in order of seriousness. The early warning signs include:

    • Social withdrawal.
    • Excessive feelings of isolation and being alone.
    • Excessive feelings of rejection.
    • Being a victim of violence or bullying. (Please address and report the perpetrator and victim of incidents of bullying.)
    • Feelings of being picked on, bullied and persecuted.
    • Low school interest and poor academic performance.
    • Expression of violence in writings and drawings.
    • Uncontrolled anger.
    • Patterns of impulsive and chronic hitting, intimidating, and bullying behaviors.
    • History of discipline problems.
    • Past history of violent and aggressive behavior.
    • Intolerance for differences and prejudicial attitudes.
    • Drug use and alcohol use.
    • Affiliation with gangs.
    • Preoccupation with violence or firearms as well as inappropriate access to firearms.
    • Serious threats of violence.

    Students who exhibit early warning signs should be discussed with the counselor, school social worker, or assistant principal. A Care Team referral should be considered in these discussions. Parents should be made aware of the concerns.

    CARE TEAM / PBIS Tiers

    Early Identification/Intervention Program

    Referral Process

    (May also be used to refer for screening for 504 or Special Education evaluation)


    The Care Team assists staff in the identification of students significantly at risk for not achieving their academic and social-emotional potential. The Care Team is especially concerned about students whose behaviors indicate possible problems with violence, drug abuse, depression, home concerns or other issues, but may have denied having problems. The Care Team reviews objective behavioral concerns listed by staff, then plans interventions and facilitates the implementation and monitoring of the intervention process until concerns are resolved.


    1. If you believe a student is having difficulty with drug abuse, depression, or other social-emotional or academic problems, but has denied having problems or is reluctant to talk with you or a counselor about this, please make a Care Team referral. Do not refer to Care Team if you think a student is under the influence or in possession of a drug in your class. Send an immediate note to or call an assistant principal who will come to your classroom to get the student and investigate the situation. If you believe a student is having significant academic or behavioral problems and should be screened for a special school district evaluation, discuss this with the counselor or assistant principal to determine if Care Team referral is appropriate.
    2. If a parent or community member expresses to you a concern about a student (who is not their own child), a Care Team referral might be an appropriate response because the Care Team gathers objective information and this allows us to verify the concern.
    3. When in doubt about when to make a referral, check with assistant principal, counselor, or the Care Team Leader, Anne Gibbs, School Social Worker

    Pick up a referral form from the secretary in 210, Anne Gibbs in Room 210 or on the shared drive. Then email it or put it in Anne’s mailbox after you have completed the referral.

    After the referral is screened, a case manager will be assigned from the Care Team. Response forms will be emailed to each of the student’s teachers, counselor, assistant principal, and other staff who might know the student. After the forms are returned, the Care Team will meet to review the forms and to plan interventions and contact the parent if this has not yet been done. The case manager will be responsible for notifying the referring person of the plan and monitoring the progress of the interventions. The process usually takes two to three weeks before an intervention is made with the student or parent.


    Identifying and Responding to Imminent Warning Signs

    Unlike early warning signs, imminent warning signs indicate that a student is very close to behaving in a way that is potentially dangerous to self and/or to others. Imminent warning signs require an immediate response.

    Imminent warning signs may include:

    • Serious physical fighting with peers or family members.
    • Severe destruction of property.
    • Severe rage for seemingly minor reasons.
    • Detailed threats of lethal violence.
    • Possession and/or use of firearms and other weapons.
    • Threats of suicide or other behaviors related to self-injury.

    When warning signs indicate that danger is imminent, safety must always be the first and foremost consideration. Action must be taken immediately. Immediate referral and call to a principal must be made and possibly to the school resource officer. In situations where students present other threatening behaviors, parents will be informed of the concerns immediately.


    When a referral is made to the assistant principal’s office that indicates that student actions of violence or self-injury may be imminent, the assistant principal or counselor will call together the SAVE Team which consists of the

    assistant principal,
    counselor, school social worker,
    school nurse and
    police resource officer.
    The focus of this team is to act quickly to explore the concerns, to assess the situation, and to offer assistance to student and family if appropriate. The major focus is to offer help, but the safety of all students and staff must be considered. Assistant principals also meet regularly to discuss concerns about students. A suicide ideation response procedure has been distributed to members of the SAVE team to be used as a guide in their response. It is essential that these team members communicate effectively and cooperatively with each other as they exercise their roles and expertise.

    General Emergency Checklist for Staff

    More information regarding specific crises may be found in the Crisis Response Manual. Copies of this manual will be available by email at the beginning of the year. A hard copy is available in John Raimondo’s office. This should be reviewed annually and staff should give feedback to the administration regarding the plan. Specific instructions for Evacuation (Fire), Earthquake and Tornado procedures can be found below and should be reviewed before students report for the first day of school. The CRISIS RESPONSE TEAM will be called together at the time of any significant crisis and the members of this team will be communicating with staff regarding the nature of the crisis and actions that should be taken. The following is a basic guide for teachers and other staff to follow during a crisis.


    Evacuation of the building may be necessary because of fire, noxious fumes, bomb threat, partial building collapse (as a result of earthquake or explosion, a utility crisis, or other crisis). Emergency Evacuation directions must be posted in your room for a fire and for a storm. If they are not in your room, contact John Raimondo or Secretary, Leigh McKittrick, in 308 immediately and one of them will get you directions to post.

    Staff and students should evacuate the building at the sound of the fire alarm or when directed to do so over the P.A. or by an adult messenger. You will be notified as soon as possible of the nature of the crisis, the location of the Assembly Area, and the location of the Command Center. A P.A system and phone system have been installed in each classroom to assist in our communication regarding a crisis. There is a security button in classroom phones that may be used to report an emergency. It will ring in several locations. Since the person who answers the phone may not know it is a crisis call, it is important that you calmly tell them the nature of the incident and the location.

    Teacher Responsibilities in the event of a general alarm:

    1. Evacuate students according to the Emergency Evacuation Plan (Fire Plan) posted in your room unless directed otherwise. (See Crisis Response Manual for directions for all rooms.) The teacher should give clear instructions regarding:
    2. order of leaving
    3. stairs to be used
    4. exit to be used
    5. place to which students go when out of the building
    6. Windows and doors should be closed upon exiting the room.

    If the fire alarm sounds between periods and students are in the halls, please assist students in getting to the nearest exit and then away from the building. Please assist in monitoring students and reminding them that they must stay on school grounds and may not leave. Leaving campus during an emergency could result in suspension. Once students are out of the building and you are notified that this is a real emergency and you need to remain out of the building, inform students that they are to move to Plymouth (back) Field and they are to find the teacher they had in their previous period. Since this previous teacher had taken attendance, this teacher will know if the student was already missing when he/she takes attendance on the field. All teachers should gather by department as outlined in the map at the end of this section. Please check the handbook to be sure you know where departments are gathering. If the alarm sounds during lunch, half the students will be in their classes, and the students in the cafeteria should clear the building and then report to Plymouth Field to the teacher they have in the current period.

    1. Take class list that you should place in your emergency packet which contains gloves, map and exit passes for reunification. You can get this packet from Leigh McKittrick, secretary in 308.
    2. The teacher will lead the way down the stairs and out of the building. (Teacher should prepare ahead of time by thinking of alternative ways out of the building if planned exit is blocked).
    3. Stay with students and continue to monitor attendance.
    4. Assist students with a handicap as necessary and request help as necessary. A fellow teacher in the next room may be able to assist in bringing your class down if you need to assist an individual student. A department teacher not assigned to students (plan period) should be available to assist. Staff members are assigned to sweep the halls to see if anyone needs assistance and to be sure each floor is evacuated.
    5. Notify administrator or member of the Crisis Response Team of any missing students.
    6. If teachers have been directed that we will be assembling all students in one area, verify the assembly area and location of command center. Assemble with other classes within your department or as directed. If it is necessary to assemble all students, this will most likely be done on Plymouth Field. Attached is a map of the field and areas of assembly according to department. This could also apply to the soccer field in front of the school if we are directed to assemble there. Once we are assembled, there may be directions to take students to another location.
    7. Keep students reassured.
    8. Releasing Students and Reunification: If we will not be returning to the building, we may allow students to leave with their parents or guardians. A “Student Request Gate” for parents and a “Student Release Gate” will be established. Students should be sent to the “Student Release Gate” when a parent or guardian has arrived to pick him/her up. The Reunification Manager should inform you of this. You may also talk with the parent on the cell phone to verify the student’s permission to be released. Your emergency packet contains exit passes for this purpose. Do not release a student unless he/she is requested to come to the Student Release Gate or you have verified with the parent and then send the student to the release gate with an exit pass. It is extremely important that you continue to monitor attendance and document names of students who were “released” from your care and students who “cut” from your care. You should be given a packet with passes to leave the property once you have reached a parent or guardian of the student.
    9. If students and teachers leave the building as a response to an active shooter, a phone blast and email will be sent. The football field and Webster Groves Recreation Center (if it is raining) have been designated as a reunification for staff. In an active shooter situation students have been given permission to run home unless they live too far and in that case, they also would go to Moss field. The Webster Groves Police have been notified of this and will be guarding this area.

    Teachers Not Assigned to Students at Time of Incident: 

    1. Report immediately to your department area and assist as necessary. If there are any substitute teachers in your department, determine if they need assistance.
    2. Assist with communication between department teachers and the command center.
    3. If not needed by the department, report to command center for instructions on how to assist.

    All Other Staff:

    1. Report as previously directed by a member of the Crisis Response Team.
    2. Report to Command Center if you have not been assigned to a specific task.


    Taking shelter within the building or classroom may be necessary because of a tornado, severe storm, earthquake, an intruder who may have a weapon, a student with a weapon, an assault on a student, or a hostage situation in another part of the building. Students may be evacuated after the event. Below are directions for taking shelter because of:

      1. Danger of Assault
      2. Tornado or Severe Storm
      3. Earthquake

    1.   Danger of Assault

    • If you observe an intruder in the building, call an administrator immediately using the security button on the phone. If you observe that the intruder is armed, call 911.
    • In most circumstances specific information will be given regarding an intruder or any crisis situation in the building so that students and staff are informed and know what to do. If it appears that the situation is not serious and the threat is low, we may ask you to take some precautions. Teachers should have their doors locked as a matter of routine. Teachers should keep all students in the classroom, take attendance, and make a note of any missing students or students who have left the classroom and the times the student left and returned. Teachers should stay with students and continue with class. Do not release a student to anyone you do not know and do not allow anyone in your room without confirmation he/she has permission to be there. Do not call the office to ask questions unless you see a suspicious visitor. We need to keep the lines free to accept calls from staff that see an intruder or student in crisis.

    Staff not assigned to students at the time of the announcement

    • Should look in the hall and observe if there is an intruder. If they observe an adult or teenager not belonging in the building, they should note the clothing that he/she is wearing, direction he/she is heading, and call an administrator using the security button immediately. If a teacher approaches the intruder, the teacher should ask if he/she needs assistance and volunteer to walk them to the main office. If the intruder runs, do not try to catch him/her but note where he/she is heading and say something like “We don’t want any trouble, you need to report to the office or leave the building.” Notify office immediately.
    • If you hear the announcement “Shelter in Place” or “Lockdown”, teacher needs to remain calm and ask students to move away from the doors and windows. Teacher should always have doors locked. Teachers should make note of any students who are missing or who have left the classroom and the time they left or returned. Teacher should reassure students. P.A. announcements will be made to update teachers and students. It should be noted that a “Lockdown” could be used for a serious situation such as when an intruder is in the building but also be used for other purposes such as when drug dogs are in the building or if there is an emergency or dangerous situation in the community. This will be made clear in the announcements.

    Staff not assigned to students at the time of the incident

    • Should observe their area and provide assistance to teachers and students in their area or take shelter as necessary and appropriate. Available staff may be directed to report to the main office or another location to assist if this is appropriate.
    • If you hear the announcement “Active Shooter” it will be followed by more information and the location of the shooter(s). At this time, teacher and students should communicate regarding the best response for the location that they are in at that time. You will have the options of shelter in place (hiding), running or even fighting, if necessary. Teachers and students will have more discretion on their response in this circumstance. More information about the location of the shooter will be given as it becomes available over the PA or by assigned staff who are carrying two way radios.
    • If armed intruder is visible or imminent, take the following action as appropriate:
    • Evacuation/running
    • Warning others
    • Crawling
    • Hiding
    • Playing dead
    • Fighting
    • Doing what you have to do to stay alive
    • If evacuation is necessary, bring list of students (gathered during silent attendance) who also evacuated
    • If evacuation is necessary, when safe, contact central office of your evacuation and the number of students who evacuated. (961-1233)
    • Maintain list of students, if possible.

    Reunification (if students and staff have run from the building) information will be sent to teachers and parents by way of phone blast or email. Students have been given permission to run to their homes for safety in an Active Shooter situation if they live within walking distance. Students who live too far away and all staff are to report to the football field (WG Rec Center if it is raining) for unification. Police have been informed of this and will be guarding this area.

    1. Tornado or Severe Storm

    The assistant principal’s office in 308 will monitor weather broadcasts when a storm is imminent. If there is a tornado or severe storm warning:

    1. A warning will be announced on the P.A.
    2. Explain to students that they will be exiting the classroom according to the directions posted. (If fire and storm exit directions are not posted in your room, contact John Raimondo or Leigh McKittrick for a copy).
    3. Turn off all gas or electric switches.
    4. Bring your class roster so that attendance can be monitored.
    5. Calmly direct your students to assigned areas on the first and second floor. Students may be redirected to another area by administration.
    6. Stay away from glass of hall doors, windows and glass areas in the stairwells.
    7. Students should be seated on the floor.
    8. Teachers should continue to monitor attendance.
    9. Teachers not assigned to a class at the time should report to department area to offer assistance.
    10. If caught in a classroom, have students stretch out flat on the floor covering head and shoulders.
    11. Earthquake

    Most casualties during an earthquake result from falling objects and debris. The shocks can shake, damage, demolish buildings and cause fire. St. Louis could receive major structural damage in such a quake.

    To Prepare for an Earthquake:

    • Check for potential fires risks in your room or department area.
    • Know how to shut off water, gas and electricity in your room.
    • Place large, heavy objects on lower shelves. Bolt down large objects.
    • Bottled glass goods should not be stored on high shelves or left to slide freely on shelves. Science chemicals should be given special attention.

    During an Earthquake:

    • D Drop and Cover! Get under heavy stable furniture or against an inside wall.
    • R Remain calm.
    • O Order students to take a safe position. Do not run for stairways or elevators. They may not be usable.
    • P   Power – stay in charge and stay calm.

    After an Earthquake:

    • R Roll! Quickly take class roll.
    • I  Check for injuries
    • S Safety--assess room safety. Evacuate if necessary and follow evacuation (fire) route.
    • K Keep students in the room unless it is unsafe to do so.
    • A Assess injuries and administer first aid. First aid kits are in principal’s offices, clinic, athletic office, FACS, business, science and resource.
    • Student Dismissal. Do not dismiss students unless directed by the command center or reunification manager.
    • S Send for help if needed. Teachers not assigned to students should report to their department.
    • Evacuate when instructed to do so. Use evacuation (fire) procedures. Then report to Plymouth Field by departments so that attendance can be taken. Locate the command center. Always have your class roll with you.
    • Student attendance. Continue to monitor student attendance.
    • Stay with your class.

    If you are not assigned to students at the time of the quake, report to your department to assist or report to the command center so that you can help out.


    The Crisis Response Team will provide instructions regarding teacher responsibilities after a crisis such as the death or injury to student or staff member or other traumatic event. Instructions can also be found in the Crisis Response Manual.