Your worst nightmare is here. You’ve heard an alarm, there is an intruder in your school. Do you know what to do in a school emergency lockdown?
An emergency lockdown is used when a threat or incident occurs on the school premises. When a lockdown takes place, teachers must act quickly, and undertake tried and tested procedures and precautions to ensure a safe school environment for students.
Importantly, teachers need to stay calm and reassure students that the best possible actions will be taken in their best interests.
It’s essential that all teachers are educated and trained on how to handle each individual emergency situation in the event of an emergency lockdown.
While New Jersey schools have experienced a range of school emergency lockdowns, new teachers at schools might not be aware of the right procedures at the school to safely manage a emergency lockdown.
As a result, the following factors should be considered and implemented by teachers at your school to ensure they know what action is required and how to act in the best interest of your students.
Lockdown Alarm or Signal
Should your school identify an intruder or dangerous act, the sighting should immediately be communicated to the principal and senior employees to determine if lockdown procedures should be initiated. If the situation is dangerous, a specific alarm will be used to start the lockdown and notify both teachers and students. This is the first stage of a school lockdown, where teachers must commence the prearranged and rehearsed instructions and procedures to ensure students remain safe, calm, and quiet.
Commence Lockdown Procedures
As soon as the alarm goes off in the school grounds for a lockdown, teachers must act quickly and lock all external doors (classroom), close windows and blinds and turn off lights. When it’s a high alert, a senior employee or the principal will call 911 for emergency services however better still, the Eastern Datacomm LENS solution automates this process.
Teachers who have classes outside, should immediately return to the nearest school building and lockdown the building. If there’s no nearby school buildings, the class can quickly evacuate to a safe off-site location. Teachers and employees at schools have a duty of care to check corridors outside of the classroom for nearby students. If a teacher does find a student outside of the classroom, they must keep the classroom doors and windows locked, and instead direct the student outside the classroom towards a safe location that is hidden from intruders. This is due to the added dangers of opening the classroom and risking the lives of all students inside.
Once the classroom is in lockdown, teachers should do a quick student count and record the names of all students in the classroom. If any students are missing, the office and senior employees should be notified via email or phone. It’s recommended that teachers only contact the office when all students have been counted to minimize email and phone traffic.
Maintain A Secure Classroom
After all students are counted, teachers should maintain the security of the room and not open the doors for anyone under any circumstances. Teachers are advised to provide students who are struggling with a ‘quiet’ activity such as reading, to avoid thinking about the school emergency lockdown. Students should stay in an area within the classroom that is not visible from the outside or door. Lockdown procedures remain in place until teachers are contacted by phone or the PA system with more information about the lockdown.
End of Lockdown
Once an official notification is provided by the principal and emergency services, the lockdown can be ceased. Teachers can instruct students to come out of their assigned spots, turn lights on and unlock doors. Teachers should then provide students with more information about the emergency lockdown and offer support and advice to help improve student wellbeing. After teachers explain that it’s safe to leave the classroom, students can continue the school day or go home (depending on the time of the lockdown and the student’s wellbeing).
Regardless of a short or long lockdown, the school principal must notify all parents, especially when the lockdown goes beyond school hours. Parents can reach out to teachers regarding the lockdown procedures or the wellbeing of their children. It’s vital the school notifies parents as they can take the necessary precautions at home to support their child.
Usually when schools enter a lockdown, it’s due to an immediate threat to the school or unauthorized intruders. A lockdown is commonly used around the world and all teachers must be prepared and aware of the current processes and procedures required at the school in an emergency lockdown. If your school requires more information regarding an emergency lockdown, you could reach out to your local state government or nearby schools for guidance. By reviewing the steps and procedures list above, teachers can get organized for emergency lockdowns, improve their current lockdown plan and ensure teachers provide a safe classroom for all students.