In this article we discuss a few key issues that a mock lockdown may bring to light in your school, and will try to help you solve them so that, should a real lockdown ever occur, they don’t hinder your students’ ability to get to safety.
Your Students May Not Know Where to Go
This is a first-step type issue. If your students simply don’t know which rooms to go to and lock down, they may panic and simply stay in place. A lockdown is a stressful, sometimes life-threatening situation, and we can’t simply expect kids to follow a rational thought-process of “I’m in danger here, I need to go there". Kids freeze, and that’s what a threat is expecting and hoping for. By training your students, and drilling them on where to go, while giving clear physical indicators for rooms, you are giving them the best chance possible to get to safety quickly.
Students May Know Where to Go, But May Not Know the Best Way to Get There
Again, we can’t always expect rational thought in a lockdown situation, especially from younger students. They may not be in a building space near a room and get confused about how to get back to their classrooms. This is another situation in which drills performed from different areas of the school can be of real benefit. If students are unsure of where to go should a lockdown occur, a strong movement plan should be laid out, and that planned should be explained to students, as well as drilled, similar to a fire drill.
Students May Not Know That a Lockdown Has Occurred
If this situation occurs, the onus falls on administrators and decision makers to implement a more effective lockdown procedure, or system, for their students. If you’re using a PA message for students, perhaps they aren’t able to hear it, or it wasn’t clear enough. Some buildings still use codes instead of clear language, and this can be confusing to kids. We recommend having a system in place with clear audio and visual triggers that give unmistakable information to your students so they know a lockdown has occurred instantly, and can quickly move to a safe location.
Teachers May Not Know What To Do
Training and drills aren’t just for students. Teachers have a vital role in ensuring that a school lockdown keeps as many people safe as possible. They have many questions to ask themselves, and training and drills can help find the answers. How many students are in their classroom? Where is my door deterrent, such as the Boot? Where is the best place to take my students once we’re locked down? Do we have escape routes should that be required? These are just a few of the many questions teachers need to be able to answer in an instant to keep their kids safe.
Students May Not Know How to Deploy Their Door Entry Deterrent
If this happens during a mock lockdown, we believe that the school lockdown system provider has dropped the ball. This can never happen in a real lockdown situation. We know most safety and entry deterrent providers take the understanding of their product by customers very seriously, and this is no more true than with us at the LockOut Company. If your students don’t know how to deploy their entry deterrent device, train them on it, show them how, repeatedly, until it becomes second nature. Our “Drop it to Lock It" system is as simple and easy to understand as it gets, but if your device is a little more complicated, make sure to train your students, not just your teachers, often, because you never know who may need to secure a door in a lockdown situation.
There May Be “Soft Zones" in Which Students Are Especially At Risk
This is common in many buildings, a location, perhaps outside or in a large space, that is an easier target for a threat should a high-level lockdown occur. These spaces are sometimes the hardest to secure. Administrators have to be able to work with security providers and law enforcement to develop a plan to either quickly move students from these locations in the event of a lockdown, or to have the ability to lock down these areas effectively, and get students into a safe area within them to avoid harm.
Law Enforcement May Be Slow to Arrive
How does law enforcement know if your school has been locked down? Is it a resource officer? Is it a message from school staff? Is there a plan at all? If law enforcement is slow to arrive due to poor communication, then it is important to work through this issue and develop a communication pattern that works. At the LockOut Company, we’ve linked our system directly to a dispatch application for police, so that, should a school lockdown occur, they are immediately notified and given as much information as possible, so they can arrive on scene and give effective support to your school.
These are just a few issues you may uncover in a mock lockdown scenario at your school. It’s important to run these drills, especially each time a new system or procedure is put in place, to ensure that your school lockdown is as effective as possible. We say it often that we wish these types of drills weren’t required in schools, but we also know that they are, and through running them, we can create better procedures, and more effectively protect our students.