I was in my five year old’s transitional kindergarten class when the teacher told me we were going to have a lockdown drill. This class had never had one before. The fifth graders in the room said that’s their favorite drill. One said he would go after the guy.
I know my older children have had lockdown drills before, and I always wondered what they were like. I figured the teachers made it seem much like a fire or earthquake drill. Maybe the kids didn’t understand the very serious scenario.
I watched as this poor teacher locked the doors, and attempted to light-heartedly explain to young five year olds that we were going to practice what to do if there is someone at school whom we don’t want at school. She proceeded to divide the students and direct them to hide in either of two hiding places. She wanted the children out of view from the windows. She turned off the lights and told them to be silent. She said we had to be quiet so we can’t be found.
Once in our hiding places, the principal announced over the PA system that the drill had begun and we should stay in place until further instruction. The teacher received a phone call and text as part of the drill. We continued shushing the children, in the eerie dark silence, trying to keep smiles on our faces as we sat in contemplation of a real incident. The children were very cramped in the small hiding places. They were uncomfortable, and some were scared. One group found books in their hiding place, and tried to pass the time browsing them.
The adults heard someone try to open the door. Luckily, the children didn’t notice, because that was the most real moment of the drill. It was then that the teacher knew she would definitely hide the children in the bathrooms in a real event. The window from that door had a view of one of the groups of hiding children.
After a while, the principal came back on the PA and explained that in a real event we would do what we’re doing now. He also introduced a new alarm sound that would only be used in that scenario, and he played it for us. He said in a real event, he may give instructions on the PA, or we may simply hear that alarm, but our actions should be the same.
A little later, the principal announced the end of the drill. The teacher resettled the students and asked for questions about the drill. It was sad to hear tiny voices say they were scared, or use the word “criminal.”
The drill was necessary, and the teacher handled the children well. It’s just sad our little ones have to contemplate and prepare for such a traumatic event.