Shelter-In-Place vs. Lockdowns

For information regarding COVID-19 related school closures and stay at home orders, please visit the RCOE Coronavirus Web page.

Shelter-in-place and lockdown are two options for protecting students that the Riverside County Office of Education has included in emergency plans covering a variety of crises, including fire, earthquakes, and intruders.

As a part of these emergency plans, we have trained key personnel in the schools to respond to incidents that might require either Sheltering-In-Place or to lockdown a school.


The Shelter-In-Place plan protects students and staff in the event of potential exposure to a dangerous chemical that could be released through:

  • An industrial accident
  • A chemical spill
  • A break in a natural gas pipeline
  • Materials transported through our community
  • A terrorist attack

The Shelter-In-Place plan has proven to be a safer approach than evacuating students into a potentially contaminated outdoor environment. Generally, the duration of these situations would last minutes or hours, not days.

Should one of these situations occur during the school day, we would be directed by the Riverside County Office of Emergency Services or other public health and safety officials to bring all students and staff members into predetermined areas. All heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems would be shut down and all doors and windows would be closed and secured. On the advice of local emergency personnel, no one would be allowed in or out of a building until the authorities give the all-clear signal.

Access to Students during Shelter-In-Place

For many parents, your first instinct will be to come to the school to check on your child or take him or her home. However, to ensure the safety of our students during the brief Shelter-In-Place period, we will not be opening our doors to anyone.  As a parent, we recognize how hard this would be.  Please know that this action is based on the best advice and counsel we have from all local, state, and national officials. So, as you plan to shelter yourself at home or at work, please know that we will be taking good care of your child by doing the same.


A school lockdown occurs when there is a threat or potential threat to staff or student safety in the area. Most often, this is due to police activity unrelated to the school, but in the vicinity. In a lockdown, the school is closed to all visitors, and students are supervised indoors.

In the case of an extended lock­down, parents will receive a message from the school district’s automatic telephone notification system. Should a situation occur during the school day, RCOE would be directed by local law enforcement and/or other safety officials to lockdown a campus for the safety of all students and staff members.

Access to Students during Lockdowns

During a school lockdown, parents are strongly encouraged not to come to the school, due to the heighten risk and should only attempt to arrive at the school after a lockdown has been lifted. Should an emergency re­sponse be called for, it’s important that emergency vehicles be able to reach the campus quickly and easily. Parents who attempt to come to the school may obstruct emergency vehicles’ access and even endanger themselves, or their children.

Do not panic.  Lockdown situations are highly controlled events where police and school officials are together and in coordination following predetermined procedures that will best insure the safety of all involved.

Equipment, Supplies, and Information

In preparation for Sheltering-In-Place and lockdowns, RCOE is supporting our school sites by providing:

  • Each RCOE school site has a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) alert radio, which will become a first alert communicated directly from Riverside County Emergency Management.
  • Supply kits to all RCOE school sites.


The contents of this website were developed under a grant from the Department of Education.  However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.