News

Locking Down the Procedure

BAILEY HEIT

STAFF WRITER

   Every year, threatening, armed strangers break into school campuses and put student’s lives in danger. To protect Pinewood Upper Campus from this, president Scott Riches and principal Mark Gardner has consulted an expert to improve its emergency procedures. With the police and expert’s input, they changed the lockdown procedure to a more effective and
secure method.

   “The new procedure is more run and hide rather than everyone stay in and hide in a certain location, ” Riches said.

   The preceding standard lockdown procedure was to close the blinds, lock the windows and doors, turn off the lights, and sit against a wall or in the middle of the room. Last spring, Riches and
Gardner sought advice from the local law enforcement and a safety expert to construct the best and safest
emergency procedures.

   The new procedure is – if a bell is rung longer than usual – then students should exit their classes and run out of the nearest emergency exit once the teacher feels it is safe. The four exits have been strategically placed on each side of the school. Once there is a clear path to an exit, students and teachers should run until they cannot see the school anymore and get to the nearest house from there.

  “In any situation, you would use your best judgement whether to stay put or exit. I would recommend finding a teacher or adult and see what are they doing because that is what we are here for is to help you reach safety,” history teacher Mary-Kate Leos said.

  Some of the teachers are skeptical about whether the new procedure is the
right thing.

  “My first thought was it was not safe because I feel that students may run into a situation that could be dangerous. The more I thought about it, however, it makes sense to run to an area where you can
immediately get out of danger rather
than just sitting in a room,” Leos said.

     Some rooms around campus do not have an easy escape route. Teachers in rooms eight and six are instructed to break a back window with a hammer and exit there instead of through the front door. In the math wing, room 23 has two easy escape routes through the gym or down the stairs. In room 24’s case, math teacher Jude Loeffler is supposed to lead his students into the back room and lock the door. Math teacher Henry Rivers has no easy exit nor closet to hide in.

   “This is a situation that only about five schools have had to deal with so we are hoping that we never have to. We just want to make sure that if we ever do get in that situation, we can say we did our best to make sure the students are safe,”
Gardner said.

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