Dear Parents, Guardians, Staff, and Students:
Due to the recent attacks on public schools, East Jessamine Middle wants to reassure you of our commitment to the safety of our students. We are committed to maintaining the security and safety standards of Jessamine County Schools. Each school has monthly fire and emergency drills for students and staff. We hold these drills to ensure all students learn the actions to take in any emergency. We have annual safety plans drawn up each year for our school and maintain good relationships with our local police department.
Preparing kids for an emergency is like walking a fine line. Practice makes perfect, but many fear drills meant to prepare students for emergency lockdowns will introduce new fears to students and leave them feeling unsafe at school. East Jessamine Middle conducts emergency lockdown drills and adapts them to meet the emotional and intellectual needs of our student body.
Lockdown drills don’t have to be scary. A successful drill includes:
- A plain language alert that all staff, students, and visitors can hear and understand
- Participants making their way to a secure area of the building
- Participants seeking cover and concealment within their safe space
- Participants silencing cell phones, closing blinds and shutting off lights
- Protocol to ensure everyone is accounted for
Lockdown drills should be conducted with regularity and variety.
- Regularity – We practice lockdowns at the minimum 2x per year
- Variety – We try to conduct the drills at different times of day trying to initiate drills when students are in different areas of the building.
Practicing for lockdown scenario with students is all about enforcing proper movements and protocol, teachers should use clear language to explain what is happening and what is expected of the students. With older students, it is beneficial and appropriate for us to introduce the “why” element to the drills and make the drills more realistic.
Teachers should clearly and calmly explain: what noise will indicate the start of the drill, where students should go, how they should behave during the drill, and what else will happen in the area (the teacher will turn off the lights, close the shades, lock the door etc.). With practice, students will become familiar with the protocol. Giving context to the drills can instill a sense of importance, and encourage students to take the drill more seriously. Making a lockdown drill slightly more realistic can train students to react and follow protocol even when there is a sense of danger.
Teachers benefit immensely from practicing with students as they get the opportunity to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their emergency plan and can adapt to better prepared to keep the students safe (Did any students stand out/present themselves as needing special assistance in future drills?) When emergency drills are conducted regularly and without a sense of danger or panic, they become routine.
Starting Wednesday, students will participate in grade level meetings where Officer Howard will explain the importance of lock down drills and procedures. Staff members will be re-trained Wednesday afternoon on the same procedures. The procedures will include taking cover, locking doors, hiding, and staying quiet.
East Jessamine Middle Administration wanted to inform families about the lockdown drills in advance, so that families can talk with their student(s) and stress the importance of these drills. This is not a surprise drill, so teachers are being asked to talk with students before the drill and emphasize it is only for practice. Another unannounced drill will take place later in the Spring.
East Jessamine Middle recognizes our responsibility towards the safety of students and staff on our premises at all times. While the incidence of threatening behaviors in our school is very low, we hope you will find this knowledge of our procedures to be reassuring. Please don’t hesitate to discuss this information any of our school’s administration or Officer Howard.
Tracy Devney, Principal