Lockdown drill protocol at Boyertown could be changing in light of school shootings

Lockdown drills where students are taught to simply hide may be a thing of the past.

In light of recent school shootings and acts of terrorism, the protocol for school lock downs is changing, said Boyertown High School Principal Dr. Brett Cooper. The high school is one of a consortium of schools in the Berks County area that is taking a look at its lockdown drill.

Rather than just hide from an intruder, students could be taught to run, if possible, or even to fight the intruder as a last resort.

Data going back to the 1999 Columbine High School shooting incident up to the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting shows that mass shooters are not concerned about students who flee, but more about those inside, Dr. Cooper said. So, hiding might not be the safest way to react to an intruder.

“Their main goal is to get inside the building and to create as much damage as possible,” Dr. Cooper said. “That’s why they are starting to think that maybe we’re going about this the wrong way.”

One of the methods that the consortium is investigating is “Run, Hide, or Fight”, which is endorsed by the Department of Homeland Security.

Under that system, the whereabouts of an intruder would be made very transparent with an announcement over the loudspeaker saying exactly where he could possibly be in the building. If the intruder is in the 500s hallway of the new building, for example.

“If we have a class full of students in the old building, it is the best protocol to run at that point,” Dr. Cooper said. “But it can’t be random running.”

Students would be taught to run to a location outside to reconvene, therefore staff would know that they are out safely. They then might join a larger group at a location off campus. “It could be a church or something in the community within walking distance,” said Dr. Cooper.

If students are closer to the intruder, they would be taught to hide, barricading the door if possible. And, if an intruder is very close, the best option might be to try attacking him.

High School faculty members have already been shown the ‘Run Hide Fight’ video. However, the new protocols are not firmly in place yet, Dr. Cooper said, and the district is still working with the Berks County Intermediate Unit on what those protocols will actually look like.

In the future there will be more drills being practiced in order to make this second nature to the students, he said, so there isn’t panic if an intruder were to invade the facility. Lastly, revisions will be made to the new drill, so protocol is subject to change over time.

Information provided by The CUB Student Newspaper of Boyertown Area Senior High. Visit bashcub.com for more student news.