Mandan News

Wilfred Volesky: Protocol for lockdown drill

During the last legislative session, legislation passed which required each public school to conduct fire, tornado, and other emergency drills, including a lockdown drill. We have always been required to conduct fire and tornado drills but were not required to conduct a lockdown drill.

It is a good idea to practice a lockdown drill each year so school employees, students and community organizations understand the protocol that needs to be followed. As a district we have a procedure that we ask schools to follow.

However, since each school facility is set up differently there are certain procedures that are different. As an example, some schools have windows in the doors into the classrooms and some have solid doors. When you have a window, different colored sheets of paper that can be posted in the window in the doorway as a way to communicate with the teacher or others outside the classroom without opening the classroom door. If you have a solid door the colored sheet of paper needs to be slid under the door. So each school facility has certain procedures they do differently.

If we ever needed to have a lockdown drill there would be various community agencies such as law enforcement that would be involved. We recently invited law enforcement personnel to an administrative meeting to make sure we both understood the role they would play in a lockdown drill. With an understanding of their role, we are ready to begin our lockdown drills.

Between now and Christmas each school in the district will have their own lockdown drill. To make the drill as realistic as possible, the drill will not be announced to the public and to only a select few school employees in the school. This will help us determine if teachers and other school employees follow the proper procedures and cover the assigned areas of the building outlined in the emergency manual at their school. Once the drill has been completed a thorough review will be made to determine if proper procedures for a lockdown drill were followed by all school personnel. The review will be helpful in determining what adjustments may need to be made in school procedures so that future lockdowns can be done more efficiently.

When a school lockdown is conducted, whether the lockdown is real or a drill, we will expect parents, visitors, or any agency visiting to follow proper school procedures. Parents will not be allowed into the school under any circumstances to pick up their children, nor will phone calls from parents be given to their children until the drill is completed or it is safe to do so. Drills will be conducted just as an actual event.

Once the drill has been completed school officials will contact parents using the Instant Alert System to make them aware of the drill or event. This will allow parents to get accurate information from school officials rather than other sources.

We want parents to understand, just as legislators intended, that lockdown drills are conducted, so if an actual lockdown were ever necessary that school personnel would have prior experiences to conduct the drills in a manner that would provide a safe environment for the students.

We ask for your cooperation when we conduct the drill at the school your child attends.