In Her Shell
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Today we had a faculty/staff meeting about evacuation and lockdown procedures. Our resident police officer (because he is on our staff now) gave a PowerPoint presentation about what to do during a lockdown.

We had a lockdown last year. It lasted two hours. Someone had scrawled a bomb threat on the bathroom wall, but we didn't know that in our classrooms. My toughest senior guys were scared--you could see it in their eyes. I was scared too, but I don't think they knew how scared.

The officer saw fit to include slides from Columbine in his presentation. While it did remind everyone to take him seriously, I don't need to see that image of a teenage shooter prowling the cafeteria with a semiautomatic in order to remember. I don't need to see that ever again.

We were told not to allow kids to use their cell phones to contact their parents during a lockdown. We were told that the "vibrations from a cell phone can set off a pipe bomb." I don't know if this is true. I think the vibrations from a cell phone can set parents to swarming a school, complicating things.

I don't know if I could take a phone away from a kid during a crisis. Nor do I know whether I could ignore a banging on the door and a plea to come in, as we were also instructed. Don't open the door to anyone. Don't let them use their phones. Sit in the corner. Don't speak.

The possibilities are disturbing, but the immediate reality is perhaps even more so. As the officer spoke, I noticed that he was wearing his gun in its holster around his waist. I don't know why that surprised me. It did not make me feel safe.
This scared the crap out of me.
That part about the cell phones setting off bombs, yes, it's possible. I'm not a tech guy so I can't explain it properly, but when we go on a bomb threat we always turn off the radios and Nextels if we're in the area of the "device."

Crappy world.
So outstanding that they at least waited until the day after 9/11 and the media force feeding of THOSE images that still haunt without the visual clues to show you the slides of Columbine. Very thoughtful of the officer.

That is really some scary stuff, and I don't envy teachers in that aspect. Your job is hard enough without having to pretend to be calm and in control during such a crises.
SO you leave a student in the hall in the event that, God forbid, there is some sort of crisis. Can you imagine ever being able to face your students again if something happened to that kid? And even if nothing happened to him, could you ever face him again? I would have to quit my job.

We have no plan for any sort of attack like that. It has never even been discussed. I don't even know if I think it is a real issue. I mean, of course it happenens, but really, how many times in how many years? I think it's like child abduction. The media blows it so far out of proportion and we b uy into the hysteria.
That is so disturbing. It just sends chills down my spine. I can't even imagine how hard it is to be a teacher today. Kudos to you.
Lulu, the CPS have no lockdown plan? I thought every school district in the state had to have one.

I wasn't aware of this until a couple months ago, but there's a standard they follow: the announcement is made, the lights are turned off and door locked, and the kids sit on the floor along the wall closest to the hallway, so that the bad guy looking in through the door/window won't see anyone.

All of these officials are still reacting to the wave of late 90's school shootings, a decade too late.
The CPS might have one, but my school has never discussed it or practiced it.

Sitting along the hallway wall would be logical if my room wasn't on an interior corner with two doors and a row of windows.
That's gross.

You had a possible bomb threat and you stayed IN the school?! Instead of like, I don't know, LEAVING the area where the bomb might be?

My old school had a plan for all sorts of different emergencies, bomb threat included. My new school can barely handle a fire drill. We were on lockdown one day last year for about 3.5 hours because there'd been a fight before school where someone pulled a gun. . .
This about mirrors the conversations we've been having in the faculty rooms since the meeting. Everyone feels ill-served by the policy as it stands, and the planned "drills" seem only to serve as a placebo, and are perhaps even more dangerous, since the attacks presumably would come from inside the school.

Though these kinds of attacks are rare, relatively speaking, our school does fit the profile of the places where they've happened. Which is not fun to think about on a lot of levels.

According to our principal, bombs are usually planted in a locker or bathroom, so the hallways are less safe than the classrooms until the threat is isolated... ?

But thanks all for the supportive words. It helps.
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