September 3, 2017
Lock, Lights, Out of Sight. Three words I NEVER want to say over the PA system. Friday afternoon, the administration received a directive by law enforcement to implement a lockdown of our facility. We cooperated immediately. Student safety will never be a discussion. Questions can come on the other side of an incident. In the middle of the event, nothing will hinder the effectiveness of Standard Response Protocol (SRP).
After Friday’s incident concluded, I reflected. I, personally, learned a great deal.
First, I learned that despite all training, you cannot predict every situation. For example, my training tells me to hide in a lockdown. Friday, I quickly realized that is not likely to occur. I ran the halls, along with other administration and leaders, ensuring no staff, student, or visitor was in sight. I secured the perimeter of the building checking every exterior door was locked.
Second, I learned that the SkyView staff and students know exactly what to do; and they did it. No questions asked. In complete cooperation. A few students of staff members found themselves away from their parents. They did not head back to their parents. They locked themselves in a room, turned off the lights, and got under a teacher’s desk. Lock, Lights, Out of Sight. They remained silent and safe. Though, I have no doubt scared. After the event, two 8th grade students sent me an email. They thanked me for preparing them for situations like Friday. While that is a gut wrenching sentence to write and, I am sure, to read, it provided me relief. Why? Their next sentence sums it up. “We knew exactly what to do to stay safe.”
Third, despite training for STANDARD Response Protocol, you must respond in the given situation. Our staff did exactly that. As a result, every individual made their way to safety in under 2 minutes. Additionally, the administration had the capacity and training to make split second decisions to further secure safety.
Fourth, our non-traditional training practices resulted in swift action and safety. We determined last year that we would no longer run drills when it was “convenient.” We began to practice in the middle of a passing period, during lunch, in assemblies, and completely unannounced. Why? We always want to be prepared. Friday confirmed the wisdom of that decision. If we learned anything on Friday, we learned that actual events never occur when it is convenient. During drills, we also practice pulling a few students from a class as the classes exit the building. Why? To ensure that teachers take accurate attendance once they reach their designated reunification point. We practice having a “missing” administrator. Why? To ensure our next in command to that administrator sweeps the halls and grabs the “GO” bag. In the future, be prepared that the administration team may determine the need for a drill during dismissal. It will be completely inconvenient. However, Friday solidified for us student safety supersedes EVERYTHING.
Finally, our students ROCK! During the event, middle school students assisted the adults in guiding smaller students to safety. We had many adult guests of SkyView fail to follow safety protocol. Students of all ages assisted teachers in getting the adult visitors to stop talking and silence cell phones.
The incident also revealed areas to improve. Upon conclusion of the event, we immediately created a Google Doc for all first responding staff members. Staff members who assisted in securing the safety of all other individuals are reflecting and contributing to this document. We will meet as a team on Wednesday and further strengthen our response should we ever find ourselves in this situation again.
What do you need to know as a bystander unable to reach your child? A great deal.
First, the waiting will be horrible. It can’t be sugar coated. I know first hand. The first time, I received an emergency notification from NAU that Maddy’s Campus was on lockdown, I was on lunch duty. You may have noticed two things in that sentence. “The First Time…” and “on lunch duty.” I couldn’t contact her. I couldn’t react. It was horrible.
Second, do not contact your child. Let them contact you. You will have no way to know if their phone is on silent. You will have no idea what is happening. You will have no way to know if the brightness on their phone is turned down. I know that no parent wants to increase the danger to their child by creating noise in an otherwise silent environment. I know that no parent wants to send a text that lights up a screen in complete darkness. That light could become visible under a door.
Third, you will not receive communication from the school during the event. Staff and student safety will be our priority throughout the event. Communication will not come until every student is reunited with their family. Please be patient.
Fourth, all administration is thoroughly trained not only through the district but through FEMA. We have an Emergency Response Management Plan on file with the state and district.
Fifth, Walmart and Babies R’ Us are one of two reunification locations for student safety. We will always select the safest location based on communication from law enforcement. Should we have to bus students to an off site location, parents will be notified of that location through several means of communication. Students will not be released to anyone without proper photo identification. Additionally, the individual signing the student out must be, at a minimum, an emergency contact listed in Infinite Campus.
Sixth, it will absolutely seem chaotic. Allow for grace in the moment. Assume no tone or annoyance from the administration facilitating the demands of the event. Not only are they protecting your child, they are protecting EVERYONE in the building.
Finally, during and after the event, the administration will be doing everything in our power and control to protect your child. I witnessed this to be true Friday.
I hate that we live in a world where we have a protocol that is “standard” for danger in, near, or around our schools.
Take heart dear ones. Our SkyView Community works daily to build a culture of safety within our building. Friday’s event provides evidence that we are succeeding. Staff and students alike came together to support and protect each other.
It is an honor to serve you all.
School Safety Resources: iloveyouguys