Anthrax and Other Biological Terrorism | Policy 5693

The School District shall assess and review their protocols for handling mail or packages. Common sense and care should be used in inspecting and opening mail or packages. Whenever feasible, the opening of mail should be limited to one individual staff member in an area that is separate from other accessible areas within the school building, including the main office.

Additionally, precautions will be taken for those staff members responsible for handling letters or packages such as making available protective gloves to be worn when handling mail and providing appropriate training and protocols for the handling of mail and identifying suspicious envelopes or packages.

The building administrator should limit the area and persons exposed to the threat. Immediately after identifying the threat, the building administrator/designee shall notify the Superintendent/designee, dial 911 and/or the local law enforcement authorities according to the procedures identified in the applicable School Safety Plan (whether District-wide or Building-level plans). The local FBI field office and the county health department will also be notified, if not otherwise provided for in the applicable School Safety Plan.

As far as possible, the school will attempt to limit the area and the persons exposed to the threat and will not allow anyone other than qualified emergency personnel to enter. Custodial and maintenance personnel will follow established procedures for quickly shutting down the building(s) heating/air condition-ing/and ventilation systems if possible and as may be deemed necessary.

Furthermore, the building administrator/designee shall, as soon as possible, make a list of all persons who have been identified as having actual contact with the powder or other suspicious element, such as anthrax, for investigating authorities.

Administration shall review and revise, as appropriate, their school safety plans; and provide information regarding applicable safety prevention and response procedures to all staff.

All threats to school buildings and/or its occupants shall be treated seriously. All threats shall be treated as criminal actions and measures shall be taken to preserve the evidence.

Under no circumstances, shall students be permitted to organize and/or handle School District mail; nor shall students be present in the room/area during that time that District mail is being opened by school staff.

Building administrators and/or designated staff shall periodic-ally assess and review their protocols for handling mail. Further, all staff, in particular those responsible for handling District mail, should receive instructions/training on how to recognize a suspicious package or envelope and the appropriate steps to take to protect themselves and others.

General Guidelines

1) Examine unopened envelopes for foreign bodies or powder.
2) Do not open letters with your hands; use a letter opener.
3) Open letters and packages with a minimum of movement to avoid spilling any contents.
4) The administration should assess whether it is a possible target for criminal acts. Based on this assessment, additional precautions will be taken as necessary such as making available protective gloves and restricting the opening of mail to a limited number of trained individuals.

Identifying Suspicious Packages and Envelopes

Some characteristics of suspicious packages and envelopes include the following:

1) Inappropriate or unusual labeling:
a. Excessive postage, no postage or non-cancelled postage;
b. No return address;
c. Improper spelling of common names, places or titles;
d. Unexpected envelopes from foreign countries;
e. Any letter or package that has suspicious or
threatening messages written on it;
f. Postmarked from a city or state that does not match the return address.

2) Appearance:
a. Powdery substance felt through or appearing on the package or envelope;
b. Oily stains, discolorations or odor;
c. Envelopes that are lopsided, rigid or bulky;
Excessive packaging material such as masking tape,
string, etc.

If a package or envelope appears suspicious, DO NOT OPEN IT.

1) Do not shake or empty the contents of any suspicious package or envelope.
2) Do not carry the package or envelope, show it to others or allow others to examine it other than qualified emergency personnel as enumerated below.
3) Put the package or envelope down on a stable surface; do not sniff, touch, taste, or look closely at it or at any contents which may have spilled.
4) LEAVE THE AREA, close any doors and windows, and TAKE ACTIONS TO PREVENT OTHERS FROM ENTERING THE AREA.
5) NOTIFY your immediate supervisor and/or building principal/designee. He/she shall dial 911 or the local law enforcement authorities, if appropriate; and shall notify the Superintendent/designee of the situation.
6) WASH hands with soap and water to prevent spreading potentially infectious material to face or skin. Seek additional instructions for exposed or potentially exposed persons.
7) If possible and deemed necessary, the building’s heating/air
conditioning/ventilation system should be shut off.

The building administrator/designee shall make a list of all persons who were in the room or area when this suspicious letter or package was recognized and a list of persons who also may have handled this package or letter. These individuals shall remain available until such time as a threat assessment has been completed. The building administrator/designee shall provide this list(s) to both the local public health authorities and law enforcement officials.

For Packages or Envelopes that are Opened and which Contain Suspicious Material

Do Not Panic

Anthrax organisms can cause skin infection, gastrointestinal infection or pulmonary infection. To do so, the organism must be rubbed into abraded skin, swallowed or inhaled as a fine, aero-solized mist. It does not leap into one’s body. All forms of disease are generally treatable with antibiotics.

Anthrax cannot be easily aerosolized out of an envelope or package containing powder. The same facts and conditions are generally true for other bacteria likely to be considered as biological weapons.

Contain The Exposure

1) Close the package or envelope to limit additional exposure. Do not clean powder up; KEEP OTHERS AWAY.
2) CLOSE OFF THE ROOM (doors and windows), do not allow anyone other than qualified emergency personnel to enter.
3) Do not touch your eyes, nose, mouth, or any other part of your body.
4) If possible, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
5) If clothing is heavily contaminated, do not brush vigorously.
6) If possible, the building’s heating/air conditioning/ventilation system should be shut off.
7) The building administrator/designee shall make a list of all persons who have been identified as having actual contact with the powder or other suspicious element, such as anthrax, for investigating authorities.

*Notify Appropriate Authorities

The building administrator/designee shall immediately contact:

1) The Superintendent/designee;
2) 911 and/or local law enforcement agencies;
3) The local FBI field office; and
4) The local Health Department.

*The District shall also refer to the procedures outlined in its School Safety Plan(s).

Adopted: 01/28/02