Admin, staff struggle to implement lockdown protocol

Duck and cover: AP Language students hide under desks during the lockdown drill on Sept. 4. The practice drill resulted in confusion as serval classes headed to the field thinking it was a fire drill.

Kathi Duffel

Duck and cover: AP Language students hide under desks during the lockdown drill on Sept. 4. The practice drill resulted in confusion as serval classes headed to the field thinking it was a fire drill.

In its first scheduled practice lockdown of the year on Sept. 4, some students and staff mistakenly thought they were in a fire drill, while others thought they were experiencing a lockdown drill.

The contradictory directions via emails from Principal Hillary Harrell and Assistant Principal Dennis To added to staff confusion.  After a fire alarm mistakenly went off, To sent an email to Bear Creek staff.

“The alarm you heard earlier went off by accident,” the email said.  “Our actual lockdown drill will be announce[d] and start at 9:45 a.m. followed by a fire drill.”

One minute later, Harrell sent an email saying that the school would only be having a lockdown drill.

Similarly, during an unscheduled lockdown in May, students say protocols were not followed.

“We were taking our Spanish written final, and we were on a time limit,” junior Ivy Ma said.  “[Our teacher] closed the windows and locked the door and told us to keep working.”

Some teachers treated the lockdown as free time and allowed students to use their cell phones.

“[I told the students to] be quiet [and] sit down,” AP Psychology teacher Lana Gentry said.  “[It was] the only time [for them] to actually sit their on [their] cell phones.”

Today, the prevalence of shootings has become so commonplace that it has caused panic among some students while desensitizing others.

Senior Joshua Rivera does not fear a shooting, but he believes it can happen.

“I would say that anything’s a possibility, that anyone has the potential to be a school shooter if they have access to weapons,” Rivera said.

Other students believe the mental health resources offered at Bear Creek are apt enough to help potential shooters.

“[I don’t fear a shooting] since Bear Creek has ways to help people who have mental problems,” junior Donald Nguyen said.

To says that Bear Creek adminstrators are taking steps to prevent school shootings.

“We have a gentleman… in charge of maintenance and operation, but [he is] more on the safety side [of things],” To said.  “[He] tried to… emphasize us doing drills every year… for emergency situations.  [We] are thinking about using technology [to] make an announcement remotely, like from my cell phone… in case I can’t get to the public address system.”  

Bear Creek campus supervisors are tasked with keeping potential shooters outside of campus and away from students.  However, some parts of the campus are left unmonitored due to a lack of supervisors.

“The campus is so big that the campus security here is not enough,” To said.  “We only have four [campus supervisors].  [Administration] was looking at zones that aren’t covered and asking for more security to keep the campus safe.”  

Bailey Kirkeby contributed to this article.

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