The last issue of the Octagon featured an editorial (“Students must become more informed, involved in school’s emergency plan,” Jan. 22) saying that, in light of the Newtown, Conn. shooting, the school should hold regular lockdown drills and students should be more involved in the safety plan.
Our request was partially fulfilled on Feb. 12, when the school held its first lockdown drill in more than three years.
Additionally, the faculty has discussed the issue and met with a trained police officer to talk about school safety concerns in general.
While we commend the school for being proactive in initiating safety training, the lockdown drill wasn’t totally a success.
Few seemed to take the drill seriously—news of it was leaked to students beforehand, many didn’t follow the procedure and some ignored the drill entirely.
One science class continued taking a test, and another ignored the announcement to clean up a lab. And in other classes teachers locked the doors but allowed students to remain at their desks in plain sight.
What they were supposed to do was lock the doors, turn off the lights and have students hide under desks, out of the line of sight from the windows.
Such an indifferent, nonchalant attitude defeats the purpose of the drill.
Unlike the fire drill, most students don’t know exactly what to do in a lockdown and are not comfortable with the procedure—that’s exactly what the school agreed needs to change.
And if teachers continue class as if nothing is happening, students won’t learn the procedure.
Drills take a few minutes of class every few months, so conflicts with tests could easily be avoided.
We understand that the probability of a shooter or other violent stranger appearing on campus is very low—almost nonexistent.
But for the same reason we have fire drills, we need to practice lockdowns—just occasionally—so that students know the procedure.
The lockdown was certainly far from a failure. Issues with the loudspeaker not reaching every part of the campus, telephone announcements not being loud enough and teachers not understanding how to properly lock their doors from the inside were all recognized and resolved.
And unlike some classes, those in the library followed protocol and hid in the office closet.
But all students and teachers should take the drills seriously. That means having students stop what they’re doing, turning off the lights and locking the doors.
And, yes, that even means taking cover underneath the desks.