Since the Columbine shooting in 1999, schools across the United States have implemented lockdown procedures and drills, in addition to their other emergency preparedness routines, to protect against the threat of school violence. Parents, students and concerned citizens should contact their school principals with questions about the local lockdown procedures.
Lockdown procedures protect staff and students in the event that an armed assailant attacks or threatens to attack the school. Each school customizes its lockdown procedure to account for school layout, present security measures and the response time of local law enforcement. Typically, each room in the school has a checklist that includes locking the door and hiding in the most secure place available, then waiting for law enforcement to arrive and secure the building.
Schools train staff members on how to identify a threat, initiate the lockdown, call for help and manage students' safety. During lockdown drills, local law enforcement, staff, teachers and students practice each step of the lockdown procedure. Police officers and staff look for holes and weak spots in the plan, then suggest areas for improvement. Procedures must be adaptable to a variety of threats, such as the number of assailants, weapons used, the time of day and activities in progress. For example, the lockdown procedure for an attack during recess is very different than the response to a threat during instructional time.