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New Year Brings New Lockdown Drills

Alyssa Blair, Editor-in-Chief

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The 2018-2019 school year came just like every school year did- with changes in many different areas. This year, those changes included revisions to the safety drills and new lockdown procedures are being taught to faculty and students

Currently renamed the enhanced lockdown and instituted by state police, the new procedures differ substantially from the old ones. One large change is in the way a lockdown is announced. Previously, an administrator would come over the intercom and announce that the school was entering a lockdown, and only a lockdown. Only a few people in the building knew if the lockdown was the real deal or simply a practice run.  Now, if it is only a drill, it will be announced as such.

Among the other changes made are what those in the classroom do if the fire alarm goes off during a lockdown. Teachers were previously instructed to stay put and continue keeping students quiet and out of view. Now, if the alarm goes off during a lockdown, it becomes a choice of the classroom teachers as to whether their students stay or go. A large part of the decision they make is based on their classroom’s place in the building. A class on the third floor may be harder to evacuate out of in a circumstance like this in comparison to one on the first floor that is right next to a set of exit doors.

A change like that of the fire alarm stems partly from other school invasions, and previous students knowing what to do in an emergency situation. “Think about Parkland,” said School Resource Officer Wise. “The kid knew how to get students out of class because he knew procedures.”

Another major difference in lockdown policy is the way students and teachers are released from it, whether its a drill or not.  Instead of a follow-up announcement over the intercom, the new procedure requires an administrator and police to go door-to-door to classrooms, telling rooms that it has been lifted.  

Such a change in procedure can come with differing opinions. SRO Wise was happy when he found out the new changes had been approved. “I didn’t understand. They didn’t make sense,” he said of the old procedures.

Dr. Perrone agreed that the new procedures make sense. “We need to be thoughtful of how we train so everyone understands,” he said.

The reaction from students has been mixed. ““Announcing the drill will help the students take the real thing more seriously. No matter how many times you tell high school students that they must take every lock down situation seriously, after practicing it over and over without having a real one, the students are bound to act up during lockdown situations. Letting the students know it’s not a drill will help them take it seriously when its really life or death dependent,” said sophomore Ashley Bergeron.

“If we don’t learn in a real circumstance, it won’t be effective in a real emergency,” said Lauren Kenney, a senior, who feels the drills need to be conducted in a believable  way. “People need to take it seriously,” agreed Maddie Merritt, another senior.

All of the faculty at the high school were informed of the new procedures at their first faculty meeting, and in the coming weeks, SRO Wise and SRO Johnson, the WSMS School Resource Officer, will be traveling around to all of the district schools to train those teachers at their faculty meetings. As they receive the new procedures, the reaction from faculty, like that from the students, is mixed.  

“So far, I’m unsure,” said history teacher Mr. Pettengill, who is apprehensive about the “amount of responsibility the changes put on the classroom to make decisions.”

“The changes are a step in the right direction.  I feel like we’re going to be be safer with our new plans. Still, I think more changes are needed.  Although I understand that people need to know in advance what they should do in an emergency, I think it is a big mistake to tell the students exactly what the emergency procedures are.Why?  Statistically speaking, those who attack schools are frequently disgruntled students. So if we disclose the entire plan to the all the students, we might be telling a potential shooter exactly where everyone will be hiding and how they will be protected and how they will try to escape,” said Mr. Bernard, a science teacher.

The new lockdown procedures will be put to the test in the coming months as students and staff participate in the mandatory drills.

The official student news site of West Springfield High School
New Year Brings New Lockdown Drills