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What Happens During School Lockdown Drills from a Teacher’s Point of View

We originally shared this post about what happens during school lockdown drills in 2013. Unfortunately, given current events we’ve republished this to help our readers.


I’ve been teaching in high schools for over fifteen years.  In the last ten years, I’ve been doing school lockdown drills and emergency drills with my students.  It never occurred to me however that today’s parents might not know what really happens during lockdown drills.  We didn’t have these types of drills as kids and perhaps every parent should know what takes place during a lock down so they can answer questions and be prepared if one should occur at their child’s school.


What happens during lockdown drills


What happens during school lockdown drills

  • Step 1: Recognition

A drill is announced via loudspeaker or through an audible signal.  Teachers and staff who are administrators of the drills take charge.  Teachers secure their classrooms, turn off lights and lock doors.  Administrators run the halls ensuring every single door is locked and all bathrooms and open spaces are clear of students.  Students not in a room are brought to a room and locked in.


  • Step 2:  Roll Call

Every teacher submits a paper under their door to the runners who check and account for every student in the school.  The runners check a master list against the attendance.  No student is left behind.  Any missing student is located.


  • Step 3: Waiting for All Clear

Students are kept in a place away from doors and windows where they cannot be seen.  Each teacher is also responsible for decisions to evacuate through low lying windows or nearby exits if there should be a reasonable way for students to leave.


  • Step 4: All Clear

Only after the all clear is sounded can classes be unlocked, rooms opened and students may return to their seats.


Why do we have school lockdown drills?

Schools will often explain that these drills are for their safety.  Students via assembly and practice learn that if they hear a code for a lock down they are to report to the nearest classroom.  Students do these drills with an understandable amount of concern as they realize these drills are in place for intruders who could bring harm to them.


Silent lockdown drills at schools

There are times when there are silent lock down drills.  These are often initiated via a code.  This type of drill is used when an individual who is perceived as a threat is detected but the school is locked down without an audible signal.  This is usually accomplished via email and phone with text.  The runners then initiate the lock down silently.  These are harder to initiate but are very effective.


School safety is a paramount concern to all teachers.  We take the safety of our students seriously and we always have plans in place for their protection.  It is advisable that you talk to you child about lock downs in the wake of recent events so they are at ease with the procedures.  While it is not what we ever want for our children, these drills are a necessary part of school life for every age group.

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Tuesday 8th of January 2013

Thanks for sharing this from a teacher's point of view. Teachers cannot be thanked enough for the valiant work they do in our schools. It saddens me that this is a necessary part of their jobs.

Jennifer Auer

Tuesday 8th of January 2013

Me too. You are welcome. - Jenn

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