Shut the blinds. Turn off the lights. Lock the door.
These were the steps followed by teachers across the school this morning in the first lockdown drill of the year, Sept. 4. But many classes required a fourth step, one not provided in the handbook: remind students to take it seriously.
This emergency drill has raised important questions about the role of lockdowns in schools. How important are they in terms of campus safety? How effective are they?
For Upper School English teacher Kemberly Kemp, these practices serve as a starting point.
“I think what this drill really does is provide a good start for awareness of this issue,” Kemp said. “As a teacher, it forces me to think about what I would do, when faced with gunfire, to protect my students.”
One such measure of protection Kemp has considered is a glass breaker.
” I would like to have one in the room. We are on the first floor, with a back wall full of windows. In some scenarios, escape might be the best option for my classes, and the lock down gave me an opportunity to assess those kinds of logistics.”
But many agree, the drill cannot stop there.
“I really don’t think the actual ten minutes were enough,” Kemp said. “I think afterward, the teachers and administration should meet up and debrief, discuss the realism and the drawbacks of the lockdowns and whether or not these procedures would function in high-pressure situations.”
Kemp is not alone in her call for discussion following the drill. Junior Mackenzie Mott expressed similar feelings.
“I remember in middle school, after we had a lockdown, either a drill or a real one, we would meet up in our advisories to discuss our feelings and the reasons behind the safety procedures,” Mott said. “I wish we could have done that today.”
For Upper School English teacher Ruth Bellows, the drill’s importance lies not in the safety it provides, but in the lessons it imparts.
“What was so great about this drill was the students took responsibility for getting things done. They shut the blinds, they locked the doors, they kept themselves collected, and I think those are important skills, especially in an emergency situation,” Bellows said. “I have no doubt they could carry out these procedures and conduct themselves if a real emergency should arise.”
But she wasn’t as certain of the value of the procedures themselves.
” I know there are no blinds to shut in S104. I know, in my class, there were about four students who could have been in the line of fire, even once they were all in position. These are things that need to be considered. If there was any real threat, I probably would have hidden all my students in the closet and not at the front of the room,” Bellows said. “Is the lock down fool-proof? No. But is it worthwhile? Absolutely.”