Three hours after the deadly shooting in Newtown, Conn., headmaster Stephen Repsher sent an email to parents outlining the school’s emergency plans and assuring parents that lockdown procedures were established.
Yet as the staff of the Octagon read that letter, we encountered a problem.
Out of more than a dozen members of the editorial board, not a single one could remember the last time the school had a lockdown drill.
Everyone knew that the procedures were inside every room, tacked to the wall in a plastic envelope, but few had ever actually looked at them.
As it turns out, it has been more than three years since a lockdown.
Yes, teachers theoretically know the proper procedure in case of a school shooter or other threat, but isn’t it a bit of a problem that students don’t know it too?
In an emergency situation, some students would have a teacher close by to guide them and tell them what to do.
But what of those caught in free period? In the garden? In the Cave?
We need to have not just one lockdown drill as planned, but drills every year, multiple times—no different from fire drills.
And what about the plan itself?
Country Day has a very open campus. That’s one of the things we love about it.
The constant presence of alumni and former students and teachers is a refreshing difference from other schools, reinforcing the sense of community.
But what should students do if they spot someone on campus whom no one knows?
According to the emergency plan: nothing.
Our emergency plan—unlike those of UC Davis and Christian Brothers—has no role for students.
Now maybe that plan makes sense for lower schoolers and middle schoolers, but it’s hard to believe that high-school students can’t be responsible for distinguishing alumni from strangers.
Who could be better at telling who is familiar and who is not than the students at the school?
So our school’s emergency plan needs to be revised to include the students. But even more importantly than that, it needs to be known.
We practice fire drills regularly, and you would be hard pressed to find a student who doesn’t know the procedure.
In light of recent school shootings, doesn’t it make sense for lockdowns to be treated the same?