So, today the school where my kids attend third grade and kindergarten was on lockdown. Or as the administration called it "soft lockdown."

Apparently there was an incident in the neighborhood where the school is located and the police told the school they had to go to lockdown.

At about 2:30 p.m. all parents received this email:

Dear Parents,

Earlier this afternoon at approximately 1:15 pm, [the school] was placed into a Lockdown by the  City Police due an incident on [the residential street where the school is located].  An injury was reported to the Police in an area close to the school. After conferring with the police, the school went to a “soft” lockdown with all outside and classroom doors locked and instruction still taking place.  This lasted until approximately 1:55 pm while the police investigated the incident. School will dismiss as usual at 3:00 pm.

OK. So, the lockdown happened at 1:15 and was over at 1:55. And we found at at 2:30. So...I'm guessing it took the administration 35 minutes to write a five line email? 
That is some serious prose. 

Look. I get it. The school can't inform the parents of the lockdown AS IT HAPPENS because mass chaos would occur and whatnot. I get it. But how about letting us know at 2:05? Or 2:15? Maybe I'm just being overly analytical here. Maybe I'm wondering why it took so long to write a simple email. I mean, was it full of typos? Were they trying to find the "right words" to tell us that our kids "might" have been in danger but all's well that ends well? 
Maybe I'm overreacting.

Or maybe, just maybe, I'm a little bothered by the fact that the words "lockdown" and "school" have to be used in the same sentence on a regular basis in this day and age. You want to know how many times my school went into lockdown when I was a kid? NONE. Zip. Zero. Not once. Was the world a safer place back then? Were there fewer crazies brandishing guns and knives? Was it safer to go to school back in the "old days?" Maybe. Tornado drills and fire drills...that's how "dangerous" it was for us...that was our reality. 

Today, the sad reality is lockdowns.
And that creates a pit in the depths of my stomach.

As the girls walked off the bus today I said "what happened at school?" And my ever wise 9-year-old said "We had a lockdown. They had to lock us in our classrooms but the principal said we could still do our work." Emma said "that was real?" with the innocence that only a kindergartner could muster. And my niece told my sister that her second grade class hid in a corner of their classroom.

Three different perspectives from the very same lockdown.

And this apparently is the reality of school today. Our kids are going to attend school with the knowledge that their school could be placed on lockdown because someone bad is OUT THERE and could be trying to GET IN. That is a sad, sick commentary on the state of our world.

Back to today's events.

Do I wish the school would have notified us sooner than 30 minutes before school let out and 35 minutes after it happened? Yeah I do. (Apparently "it" was an attempted dog theft and subsequent non-fatal stabbing across the street from the school). Am I asking anyone to agree with me? Nope. Not at all. I'm simply stating that there has to be a better system than using email to notify parents. Some people only check their email once a day (I know, crazy right?)

I know the school has the capability to call parents (as a whole group). Perhaps that would have been better - a phone call saying "here's what happened, but everything is OK now and please pick up your kids at 3 p.m. as scheduled."

That's my point. If we as parents need to accept the reality that school lockdowns are going to happen then schools need to devise an intelligent way to keep us informed. That's all.

[And on a related school venting note: There are a mere 15 days left in the school year. That being said, one would think the "substitute" bus drivers would not still be getting lost on their routes. But no. Today, I watched as yet another substitute driver turned the wrong way, drove past my house and continued on aimlessly through the neighborhood, eventually dropping the kids off ... 10 minutes later than normal.]


  1. My theory is that the police had delayed the school from saying something. I arrived at school during the winter months to find an obscene amount of police cars around the building. I was picking the kids up and going in for clubs. I was greeted by district security that told me all people had to go into the main door and sign in. The office staff was hushed and we knew something was going on, but no specifics. The next day a note came home from the principal with every child. There was a criminal incident that happened and a person in the building knew the individual that the police were looking for. They worried that person may show at school. Watching the news that night, we kind of connected the dots. They had to act in the moment, protect our kids, and none of them were scared or worried. While I was flipped out arriving to the scene, I was glad to know my boys were not upset.

    This happened days before Sandy Hook. In fact our district used this protocol to practice more in the weeks to come. Police have gone into every building and done drills with the schools. The kids knew that a practice lock down was coming and were told police would be there. Parents were warned and told that if anyone arrived during that time, nobody would be going in or out. I happened to be leaving the building as they were starting the practice. It was chilling to stand across the street and watch. I think you need to see what the protocol is within your school. We all know they have changed since December. Good luck and hugs coming your way.

    1. It was nice to know my kids weren't scared...but I agree, it would be nice if the school let parents know what the protocol is. Just in case.

    2. I know the superintendent sent out items around here in recent months. After Sandy Hook it was needed. Hopefully parents will say something at your school and they will let everyone know what protocol is...just in case.

  2. I think the school should have called. They do have the capability, our school does it when there is an "emergency". Emailing is not the way your contact parents for something like this, a phone call should have happened. As far as timing, I can't speak for that. I know our school has to go through quite a process before that emergency call will go out.