As a generation raised at the same time as the victims of countless other school shootings, the threat of gun violence at school is often on our minds. Loud noises from slamming doors or falling textbooks can bring rushes of fear and adrenaline. But when the possibility of real danger presents itself, it is imperative that proper lockdown procedures be followed and enforced. On Monday, January 27, in our school’s first lockdown in ten years, our school demonstrated difficulty functioning effectively under a lockdown.
When the school went on lockdown, at approximately 1:58 p.m., some classes followed procedure to a T; others did not. Though the lockdown proved just a precautionary measure, a few shortcomings of the school presented themselves clearly. After the PA system announced that the school was on lockdown, some students continued to talk loudly or even make TikTok videos. Even worse, some doors remained unlocked for a significant amount of the lockdown, and at least one for the entirety, demonstrating how we need to revisit how we approach lockdowns before it’s too late.
Firstly, it is the teacher’s responsibility to make sure that they do their best to ensure the safety of their students. This includes turning off lights, locking doors and windows, and closing the blinds. Teachers must know how to handle all possible scenarios during a lockdown. It is concerning that there were reports of some teachers continuing to teach, not quelling the loud behavior of students, or not taking the situation seriously. Additionally many substitutes, even those who were long-term, were unsure of proper lockdown protocol, including how to lock the doors. Teachers following improper lockdown protocol were potentially putting their students in danger.
Secondly, the student body must shift their attitude during lockdowns. Students should behave with empathy and understanding, considering the fears of all students and not just their own feelings. Making light of a frightening situation is a natural reaction, but it’s important for students to consider how their actions may affect the feelings and safety of those around them. A shift must occur within the student body to be more disciplined when approaching lockdowns, especially if their teachers are not following through on proper procedure.
Finally, Tam’s administration must communicate with empathy and efficiency. All communication should be clear and straightforward. After the lockdown ended, the Tam Community was not given information until the following day, and many students and parents were uneasy about going to school. An email sent out at 8:06 AM on January 28th detailed extra police presence on campus and commended the community for their etiquette but discussed little else. Although not much information was available to Tam’s administration at the time, sent before school started would’ve helped to put students and parents at ease.
Realistically, there’s only so much that can be done during a lockdown, but it is worth revisiting and improving our lockdown procedures to prepare the best we can. Fully equipping the school’s portables, holding lockdown drills during lunch or passing period, or even printing flyers about proper procedure would allow students and staff to be and feel safer. Other precautionary measures could be having every member of Tam sign up for a school text chain to immediately tell them reliable information about any potential threats. Administration has been taking considerable measures to improve the school’s readiness for future lockdowns, but it’s ultimately up to the entire community to learn how to operate effectively in these situations.