Five Steps to Reduce Fear for Students During a School Lockdown
A lockdown is a scary event for anyone, but students, and especially young students, are going to experience this most powerfully. They will be scared and confused, and they will be looking to teachers and other staff for direction. By preparing them as much as possible, and providing them with a safer environment, we can help reduce their fear whether the lockdown is a preventive measure, or a worst case scenario.
Step 1: Help Them Understand How Your Lockdown System Keeps Them Safe
A system like the LockOut Company’s SmartBoot can be a lot to take in for a younger student. There are many pieces that make up any system, and, just like with adults, helping students understand the system, as well as how and why it works, can go a long way toward reducing their fear should a school lockdown occur. “Explaining that the Boot keeps us safe by blocking a bad guy from getting in a room, and that the SmartBox and SmartLights keep us safe by telling everyone that a bad guy is in the building is very important,” says Rob Couturier, LockOut Company partner and inventor of the Boot, “Keep the language simple and get to the root of how it keeps them safe, children understand that much better than a technical explanation.”
Step 2: Make Your Plans Clear For Your Students
Even if your students understand how their system keeps them safe, they may not understand your lockdown plan clearly enough to train with, and ultimately use it if necessary. While it’s important to ensure that your lockdown plans are designed by coordinating with law enforcement and your system provider (we train our customers using the ALICE protocol), students may need some input as well. By asking younger students simple questions, you can gain insight into how well they understand what they are meant to do if a lockdown happens, and how well they can differentiate between types of lockdowns. By making sure your plans are clear, you can help students effectively navigate through system training and use.
Step 3: Specialize Their Training With The System
Once students understand how the system is going to keep them safe, it’s important that they understand how to use it and how each piece is used. Some pieces of the SmartBoot System, such as the Ballistic Shields and Reflective Room Placards don’t necessarily require training, and other pieces, like the SmartLights, function to give clear directions during a lockdown. The bulk of training for the SmartBoot System will be spent on the Boot and SmartBox, and the LockOut mobile app. Training for both of these are very straight forward. Teaching kids to remove the Boot, then drop it in the door is very straight-forward, and we’ve designed our application to be a simple three-step lockdown process. However, just because these products are easy to use, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t train your students and ensure they understand how to use them. Even young children have cell phones these days, so if your school has given access to the LockOut mobile app, helping them work through how the app works, how police will be able to communicate with them, and more, are vital.
Step 4: Run Mock Lockdown Scenarios
Just like a fire drill is designed to help students exit the building quickly and in an orderly fashion, a mock school lockdown helps them get to their safe locations, get their Boots in the door, and protect themselves should a lockdown occur. Couturier states, “We’ve found that when the kids work through lockdown drills that are designed by law enforcement, they manage themselves better each successive time, and they are less afraid. It’s tough that we have to have kids go through these drills, but in today’s world it’s important that they do.” No good person ever wants to make a child experience fear, but by training them through lockdown scenarios we can help them stay safe and calm should a real threat ever enter their school.
Step 5: Train Your Staff To Be a Calming Force
Students look to teachers for guidance, and this is especially true in a fear-inducing situation. If your staff is well-trained, and remains calm, students will follow their lead. With so many moving parts during a lockdown situation, it’s easy for even the most well-intentioned staff member to lose control. By training your staff to not only be able to use your system, but also to remain calm and direct their students, you give your teachers a higher chance of maintaining a calm classroom in any level of lockdown. We recommend looking to law-enforcement for specialized training as they experience heart-racing scenarios every day and can bring a wealth of knowledge to your staff. Scheduling police officers to come to your school and work with your staff could be vital in saving lives in a worst-case scenario, and is important for even a lower level lockdown.
Always Keep Working
No matter what, as long as you have your students best interests at heart, and are taking steps to keep them safe, you are doing the right thing. Law enforcement are an amazing resource to help with any school lockdown process that you may not be certain about, and your system provider should be assisting with these steps as well. At the LockOut Company, we pride ourselves on ensuring our customers not only have the best system available, but the best training as well. Regardless of which company you work with, they should feel the same way.