This is not a drill…sort of

21 Feb

“This is a lockdown. Locks. Lights. Out of Sight. This is a lockdown. Locks. Lights. Out of Sight.”

I’d been puttering around my classroom during my end of the day plan when the announcement came over the intercom. Two thoughts flashed through my mind: Was this on the calendar?  and They didn’t say drill.

I  quickly grabbed my keys to lock the door and, as I pulled the blind, I noticed a seventh grade girl on her way back to her classroom from the restroom. Her classroom door was already locked so I called her into my room. We moved to the most out-of-the-way corner  of the room silently.

She was clearly worried. I whispered to her that I couldn’t call her teacher. What I didn’t say was that, if this wasn’t a drill, we’d give them away. I whispered again to let her know I’d look on my laptop to see what was going on. Usually, when there is any sort of safety issue, a banner runs across the top of the school district’s website. Early today we’d al been warned about phone outages at another middle school. But nothing scrolled there now. I told her that this was probably an unscheduled drill, even though that was weird.

After about 10 minutes we could hear movement in the hallways, a single voice It was disconcerting not knowing what was going on. I wanted to lift the blind and peek out to the hallway, but resisted. What if it wasn’t a drill. We could hear the single voice getting closer and the jingle of keys. I let my young companion know that we were not allowed to open the door. Anyone on the outside had to identify his/herself to us and open the door with their own key. And sure enough, that is what happened.

A couple of knocks on the door, then, “This is Mrs. _____.” The jangling of her keys preceded the opening of the door. Once it was open she told us a teacher had pressed the newly installed “Lock down” button on the phone by accident. I waited with my student until her room was unlocked. Her teacher gave her a big hug.

The school buzzed afterwards. Messages were sent to staff and families. Our administrators praised staff & students for the swiftness and silence of our reaction  to the unexpected drill. We have a staff meeting this morning and I bet the new phone buttons will be addressed.  All staff had been sent a video explaining how to use (and cancel) the new buttons. I still haven’t watched them, but I like to get to work early, so I will be sure I’ve watched the video before the staff ,meeting begins.



11 Responses to “This is not a drill…sort of”

  1. terierrol February 21, 2017 at 6:50 am #

    Scary moments I’m sure. Glad everyone is safe. I know we need these drills, but I wish we didn’t have to have them…

  2. Stacey Shubitz February 21, 2017 at 8:04 am #

    We’re living in a scary world these days. (My slice is related to this, but a different take on it.)

    Like Teri said, I, too, am glad everyone is safe.

  3. arjeha February 21, 2017 at 8:04 am #

    Although it was not scheduled and planned this surely was a test to see how prepared the school was. Sounds like you all passed with flying colors. Congrats to your school for being so prepared.

  4. teachworkoutlove February 21, 2017 at 12:00 pm #

    O man! You just never know at that point !

  5. mbhmaine February 21, 2017 at 12:29 pm #

    How scary! I’m so glad that you were able to reassure that student and that it turned out to be a mistake, not a real emergency.

  6. Karen Yingling February 21, 2017 at 2:26 pm #

    I don’t think the administration SHOULD tell us when there is a drill of any kind. My middle school was set on fire when I was in 6th grade. I treat every fire drill as if it were real. When there are lock down drills, I often have 60 students in my library workroom, and no one makes a peep. Hope for the best, expect the worst!

  7. Lisa C February 21, 2017 at 3:11 pm #

    I hate that we have to have these drills and procedures. As necessary as they are, they make me really sad for our world. I’m glad you were all safe! We had an unexpected “please lock your doors” announcement today Trying to assure the kids that everything was fine and that this wasn’t a “real” scary situation or we’d have been told it was a lockdown was hard. And I don’t think they really believed me.

  8. marignylavin February 21, 2017 at 4:22 pm #

    Your essay really captured the drama of the moment. I felt as though I were hunkering in the corner right along with you and your student. Thanks for sharing this frightening experience. (And I’m glad to hear it was just a drill.)

  9. Ramona February 21, 2017 at 5:29 pm #

    It’s always the question my students would ask first – Is this a drill? Just like Karen, I treated every drill as if it were the real deal and tried to teach my students to do the same. So glad you were around to provide space and reassurance for that student.

  10. bevbaird February 21, 2017 at 8:04 pm #

    Scary indeed. The first lockdown drill I had with my Gr. 3 class 4 or 5 years ago really made me realize what kind of world we live in when there could be a need for that type of response.

  11. Brian Rozinsky February 22, 2017 at 9:32 pm #

    Resonant details here, Adrienne. Funny, in hindsight, how one new button on the phone can unintentionally press so many people’s buttons!

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