Students at Royal Bay Secondary will get the chance to practice what to do in the event a shooter or other threat should enter the school this week.
As part of the lockdown awareness exercise, the school’s roughly 1,100 students will hide, turn off lights, lock classroom doors and remain quietly inside the room until instructed by the teacher to resume their activities. All exterior doors will also be locked and no one will be permitted to enter or leave the building.
“We just want to make sure that our kids are safe, aware and educated on what to do in case we have to go into a lockdown,” vice principal Mike Huck said. “We want to take the fear out of it for kids so that they’re equipped when something does happen.”
There have been a number of school shootings in recent years, the majority of which have taken place in the U.S. In September, one student was killed and three were injured at Freeman High School in Rockford, Wash. In Canada, it’s been close to two years since a gunman killed four and injured seven others in La Loche Community School in La Loche, Sask., in what has become known as the worst school shooting in Canadian history at a high school or elementary school.
Royal Bay has been putting on the lockdown awareness exercise, as well as a secure and hold drill, in which classes continue, but students are not allowed to leave the building, since it opened. Huck said it has become clockwork for many students and staff and has contributed to a feeling of preparedness that can help reduce the amount of fear during a real-life incident.
A lockdown would be initiated if there was an imminent threat to the school or in a worst-case scenario, if an intruder, such as someone with a gun, should enter.
In the event of a lockdown, parents are being told not to call or text a child’s phone, as it is important that the safe locations remain quiet. Parents are also discouraged from contacting the school as phone lines need to be available for emergency response.
In his career at Royal Bay, Huck has never had to implement a lockdown at the school, but did implement a secure and hold a couple of years ago during a police incident in the community.
“It would be totally negligent not to be prepared. I don’t think any school is expecting it to happen, but you have to do your due-diligence to make sure kids are safe,” Huck said.
“Our kids are aware that these things do happen, so I think the kids do take is very seriously as well … The more you practice, the more it becomes second nature. So that if something were to happen, people don’t panic and there’s a feeling of security and safety.”
The lockdown awareness exercise takes place on Thursday, Nov. 30 at 10 a.m. for approximately 15 minutes.