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What happens during a school lockdown?

An unfortunate reality of living in today’s society is that things can go wrong that are outside of our control. As parents we want to know that our children are kept safe at all times – particularly when they’re not with us. A school lockdown procedure, as scary as it sounds, is the best way that a school can safeguard our children. Schools value your children’s safety above all else so they will practice, particularly with younger years, to ensure everyone knows the lockdown protocol to follow in a worst-case scenario. A school lockdown means exactly that – everyone in the school ‘locks down’ until the threat is located and removed.

How will my child know what to do in a lockdown procedure?

Each school has policies and protocols specific to their campus. Your child’s teachers will be well-trained and prepared and practices will take place to ensure that all children are familiar with the procedure.

A warning will be given to staff that a threat has been identified. In some schools this may be the bell playing at odd times, the school song played over a loudspeaker or a verbal announcement over the PA. Your child’s teacher will gather their class into the classroom (or nearest room if they have been outside) and block the exits.

School lockdown procedure

Depending on the layout of the classroom, this will generally mean that the door will be locked and curtains will be drawn. Children will hide out of sight from the windows – usually underneath desks. Your child’s teacher will ensure that the class is kept calm and quiet. Sometimes children can become scared during this process and they will be comforted. School lock down practice is vital for everyone and all students must take part in it.

How does the teacher communicate with the office during a school lockdown?

Again, different schools have different systems. In some schools the teacher will stick a coloured post-it note on the inside of a window to indicate all clears. Some schools will have phones inside the classroom. In others a senior staff member will walk around to check on rooms. Rest assured, though, that whatever the school decides to do that they have thought about it in depth and have made the decision using all the information they have available.

A signal will be given to indicate the end of the lockdown and if it was a lockdown drill the lessons will return to normal.

How long does a school lockdown last?

school bomb threats and school lockdown procedures

If it is a practice, then only as long as it takes to check on all the classrooms. If it is the real thing, then as long as it takes until the threat is removed.

What makes a school go into lockdown?

Many things can make a school go into lockdown – not all of them as dramatic as you would think! Unidentified persons on the school grounds, a non-custodial parent trying to remove a child without permission, a health and safety issue – there are many varied causes where the best solution is to keep everyone’s children contained.

After the school lockdown administrators and teachers will have the opportunity to discuss what worked and what could be improved for next time. This is part of the reason why it is so important to regularly review lockdown drills.

Will I be notified about the school lockdown?

Typically, schools will not communicate with parents about practice lock down procedures. It is unnecessary to do so and very time-consuming. Students are not informed prior to the lockdown occurring because it would have an impact on how they behaved during the practice.

If a real school lockdown occurs parents will be notified via email or text message. The communication you receive from the school will contain everything you need to know. You will not be allowed to enter the school or communicate with your child until the authorities give you permission to do so.

What do I do if my child’s school is in lockdown?

If you hear that your child’s school is in lockdown please do not rush the school to attempt to collect them. The absolute best thing you can do is wait to be told what’s going on by the appropriate authorities and to follow their instructions to the letter. Confronting staff who are already trying to deal with a difficult situation will not make things better or make your child come out safely any sooner. Let the professionals handle things and trust that your school loves and cares for your child and has the best procedures in place to ensure their safety.

Should I talk to my child about lockdown procedures?

Absolutely! Ask your child to tell you what happens and discuss the importance of following instructions to ensure safety. Getting upset that your child has to practice this will only lead to them becoming upset and stressed – it is a part of life and it is far better to be prepared.

Louise Lavery is a content writer and the online content manager for Families Magazine. Louise taught senior English for over ten years with a focus on the promotion of literacy development in adolescents who have processing and behavioural difficulties. In her “spare” time she is a freelance writer, a young adult novelist and chief wrangler of the world’s cheekiest three-year-old boy.

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Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

1 thought on “What happens during a school lockdown?”

  1. For Gods sake let children be children and stop trying to frighten them or treat them as adults. They will not be happy in this Country until something serious happens.
    Stop talking domestic violence issues to them as well as majority of children adore their parents who are loving mums and dads and not the fighting types like the feminist teachers who wish to portray men as.


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