My daughter’s school had a lockdown drill today. Her school sent some really useful information on how to talk with your children about the experience, and I am sharing it here, along with some background on what a lockdown drill is, and what procedures a school will typically follow.

What Is a Lockdown Drill?

In case you are not familiar with a lockdown drill, wikipedia gives this definition:

Lockdown drills are means of practicing preparedness in a business in the event of an intruder or criminal act. Generally an announcement is given that the building is going on an immediate lockdown. At that point, all occupants present at the time of the drill go to a room and lock all doors and windows tight. They must remain still until a “clear signal” has been issued. If the emergency is really life-threatening, then occupants present at the time of the emergency will evacuate to a meeting zone well away from the premises (scene of the emergency).

In addition to locking doors and windows, at our school they do the following:

  • Students are moved to the safest part of the room, away from windows and doors, to the interior walls. They are instructed to be as still and silent as possible.
  • Everyone drops to the floor or out of the line of vision from the door.
  • Window shades are pulled down.
  • Any windows in doors are covered, so an intruder cannot see into the room.
  • Room lights are turned off.

How Does a School Conduct a Lockdown Drill?

I’ve included an excerpt below from the information that all school families received regarding the lockdown drill. This gives you an idea of what to expect and details on how the school conducts these drills.

As required by, and in accordance with safety and security procedures as per, the Department of Education, we will be holding a school wide lockdown drill this week. This may bring up memories for children (and adults) about events that have transpired in our country and in the world. We understand that some of you may not have talked to your children about the different types of emergency situations. Teachers and other staff members are trained to instruct children in a calm and collected manner about  what we do to keep safe and secure when emergencies arise. Children who know what to do in an emergency feel empowered and not helpless. To protect our children, we must empower them.

All of our classroom teachers have already practiced lockdown drills with their students. All substitute teachers receive information on emergency protocols. Children know what to do if they are in their classroom, in the hallway, in the Main Office or in the bathroom.

To reduce the anxiety that may come with a lockdown drill, we will be doing the following:

1-3 days before the drill:

  • We will notify you via email.
  • We will alert the 6th Precinct.
  • We will alert all staff members, who will, in turn, alert all students.

During the drill:

  • We will announce on the PA system, “This is a lockdown drill” so that all staff members, students and visitors will know that it is a drill and not an actual emergency.
  • Members of our Building Response Team will be “observers” to notice what goes well and if any problems arise. BRT members will not assist staff members or students during the drill. They will be observing and taking notes.

After the drill:

  • We will make an announcement, alerting all staff, students and visitors that the lockdown drill is over.
  • Classroom teachers will talk about the experience with the students.
  • We will send an email to all families and we encourage you to have conversations with your child about his/her experience.
  • We will ask our teachers and students what went well, and if any problems occurred.
  • Our Building Response Team will meet to discuss observations during the drill.

What Are Some Tips on Discussing Lockdown Drills With My Children?

After the drill, the school shared a few strategies with parents on how to discuss the lockdown with their children:

  • Be calm and neutral when you talk about practicing lockdown drills. If adults are anxious or nervous around the discussions of a school lockdown, these moods and emotions may be passed down to children.
  • Do not instill fear in children about the lockdown, but model optimism coupled with healthy caution, and a safe and reassuring atmosphere.
  • When children express or talk about the experience afterwards, reinforce that they should stick to facts and not dwell on fantasy or their imagination about what could or would happen.
  • During your conversations, many of the questions your children ask may reflect underlying worries. Children can be attempting to plot strategy for how to deal with a difficult situation in the future.  If this is a concern, you can address that with a school counselor.

Stay safe, everyone!