Preparing for School Lockdowns

A classroom lockdown is an emergency procedure that is used when there is a threat or potential threat on campus to their health and safety during the school day. Students are confined or "locked down" in their classrooms until the threat has passed. A lockdown can be a frightening experience for students, faculty and parents, but its aim is to protect students by isolating them from the source of danger. What form a lockdown takes depends on the nature and circumstance of the specific threat and whether it is external to the school (such as a bomb threat or police action in the neighborhood) or internal (such as a school shooter).

External Threats

Students remain in their classrooms or if they are outdoors, they are told to come inside. External doors are locked to prevent unauthorized access and hallways and restrooms are cleared. Shades are drawn and students are instructed to stay away from windows. Low level of classroom activity may continue depending on the immediacy of the threat. The lockdown will remain in effect until an administrator announces the “all clear”. A lockdown may be changed to an evacuation order if officials determine that students would be safer if they are removed from the school.

Internal Threats

Students and staff are routed to the nearest classroom or secure space. Those outside the school must remain outdoors. Classroom doors are locked but external doors are left unlocked to allow easy access to emergency responders. Students are told to remain quiet and stay away from doors and windows and lights are turned out. The lockdown remains in effect until an administrator indicates the “all clear”.

How to be More Prepared

Have a clear plan and practice it regularly. Ensure teachers understand lockdown procedures and their individual responsibilities. Lockdowns should proceed with calm discipline to maintain order and avoid frightening students.