On Tuesday, February 2, the tri-campus of San Lorenzo Valley Elementary School, San Lorenzo Valley Middle School, and San Lorenzo Valley High School as well as the associated charter schools went into a lockdown at 9:06 a.m. until 9:38 a.m. after the elementary school received a report of a potential individual on campus with a weapon.
Some confusion ensued with teachers, as the school-wide announcement designated the situation a “lockdown,” which occurs if “a dangerous person or crime in neighboring community” is reported according to the SLVUSD website. However, the email sent to staff read: “SLE reported a possible person with a weapon on their campus. This is not a drill,” which would constitute an immediate danger to students and staff. A “Code Red” lockdown comes into play in the event of a “Fatality, Stabbing, Shooting or Active Shooting” as stated on the SLVUSD website (http://www.slvusd.org/wp-content/uploads/bsk-pdf-manager/48_LOCKDOWN_INFO.PDF).
The lockdown was not classified as a “Code Red” because the report was not confirmed.
Some of the staff (including district office employees on campus) did not receive an email from any of the three schools’ administrations at all, due to the fact that they are not listed on an schools’ staff email list, although email is supposed to be the only method of communication used in case of a lockdown. Nature Academy teachers were left out of the loop on the situation.
Students were shocked when their substitute teachers were not aware of lockdown procedures, and left their doors unlocked. Although the lockdown instructions are given to substitutes in a red folder, Ms. van Putten said that they hope to provide substitute teachers with the same lockdown training as regular teachers in the future.
According to van Putten, “Administration will take questions and concerns from students and parents, and discuss them in a management meeting in February or March.” She classified the lockdown as a success, but admitted that there was room for improvement in communication.
According to Senior Adriano Odello, one class found that the door to their classroom would not fully lock. “(Our teacher) had not been taught lockdown procedures by the school,” said Odello, “so she asked the students (what to do). Upon difficulty locking the slightly broken lock, (the teacher) barricaded the door under my advisement. She had no knowledge of the severity of the lockdown, so we prepared for the worst. I grabbed a pole and handed my friend a broom. I stayed by the door, ready to do what I had to.”
Following the lockdown, an automated message was sent to parents to make them aware of the situation.
Many students and staff members seemed unclear on procedure for lockdowns, which is not found in the red student handbook. Some teachers addressed the situation as a “Code Red,” basing their decision on the email from principal Karen van Putten; others carried on with classes as normal or did partial lockdown procedures, due to the fact they decided that was not a “Code Red” lockdown.
Conforming to lockdown procedure, van Putten said that teachers should have locked the doors, closed the curtains and turned off the lights but proceeded with class as usual.
The updated lockdown instructions sent to staff members following the lift of the lockdown status noted that in lockdown situations, “Students who are locked out must go to the predetermined location” and in “Code Red” lockdowns, students should, “Flee to classrooms or off campus to staging areas if that is safer.” However, many students including SLV Junior Harena Haile could not name any such location or staging area.
Due to the fact that different classrooms reacted to the lockdown in such diverse ways, many students were left confused, concerned, and anxious.
In accordance with the SLVUSD website, “The State requires at least two drills annually.” However, SLVHS has not had a lockdown drill in the last several years. There is a lockdown drill scheduled for next month.
By: Katie Maxwell and Michael Eshnaur