The recent and unattended lockdown alerts, as well as the annual mandatory drill have understandably surfaced very real concerns. Teachers prepared students for the scheduled lockdown drill in January, and I must say that after today’s frustrating false alarm, even our littlest owls knew what to do. Our communication to our students includes:
- A lockdown drill is a safety drill like a fire drill or an earthquake drill.
- When we have a fire drill we go outside, when we have an earthquake drill we duck, cover, and hold on, and when we have a lockdown drill we go to and stay in the nearest classrooms, teachers lock the doors, shut the blinds, and we gather in a safe space in the classroom and we are very quiet.
- We have lockdown drills to practice what we do if there is something unsafe happening in or around our school.
- Many of our older students do have a deeper understanding of the tragedies involving schools and violence. Teachers may hold age appropriate conversations, and the expectation is that this information would be shared with families via parent communication.
- We have communicated to our students that our new alarm system is not working correctly. We are honoring how scary the alarms is, and we are reassuring our students that they are safe and that we are going to keep them that way.
AUSD has and continues to invest in updating school security, including the new phone/alert system. The intention of this system is to provide the ability for all classrooms to request emergency assistance or send out an emergency notification. Clearly there are unacceptable technical issues that the district’s technology department has now prioritized as an issue.
When I first started teaching twenty years ago lockdowns were not a part of the school fabric. It is unbelievably sad that we are now raising and educating children in this new reality.