Grade Expectations is a weekly look at education from a parent’s perspective. We’ll talk special needs, gifted & talented, and everything in between.
We all know that our children’s schools have an emergency protocol. It’s not just the fire drills where everyone stands around whispering on the playground. Not just the tornado drills where you have to bend down with your butt in the air and hands covering your neck. There’s another emergency protocol. It’s what happens if a child goes missing. Or if a suspicious person is hanging around the playground. This is the emergency protocol for a human threat, not a natural one. And that’s the kind of emergency protocol my daughter’s school had to put into place last week.
In what became the most terrifying afternoon of my adult life, my husband and I sat helpless as our daughter and my mother sat holed up in their classrooms and closets, as far away from the windows as possible. We sat by as buses with afternoon pre-k students were re-routed to other schools. We held our breath as parents were turned away while trying to drop off or pick up students. We did a whole lot of nothing that afternoon. And yet at the end of it, I was exhausted.
Last week, four men in my hometown robbed a gun store. They stole multiple weapons and injured two customers, though thankfully no one died in the altercation. As the group of men sped away from the store, they crashed into another car in the middle of an intersection just a few blocks from my daughter’s school. Three of the suspects were taken into custody immediately. One suspect escaped on foot, and he took at least one of the stolen weapons with him.
It was at this point that local police let the school know that an armed man was running from the law just blocks away from where kindergartners were happily playing on the playground for recess.
Our school, I have to say, responded immediately and with all the caution that the situation deserved. Students were brought inside and kept in a save place. Teachers who had gone out to lunch were called and told to meet re-routed pre-k students at other schools. My mother was locked in a small conference room, as no one is allowed to open the doors to their rooms once an emergency lockdown is in effect. And parents were sent an immediate emailing explaining the situation and that students were not able to come or go until the coast was clear.