The drill began around 9:30 a.m. According to Director of Student Life Randy Shearburn, it was only the second-ever such procedure enacted at the school. The first took place last year.
Shearburn says the scenario was created by ISD chief engineer Chuck Black, a retired military member who apparently kept the date of the drill a secret. It was started in the high school.
“The person they gave the scenario to was immediately to start the lockdown, which happened, but the health center was not to answer the phone. We were seeing if the staff in their training remembered who the next person was, which they did,” he says. “And they made that call, and it took a little time for the engineer to get onto his computer and get the message started throughout the campus on the communications devices that we use.”
Besides knowing that their job was to maintain calmness, Shearburn didn’t think teachers told students during the process that it was a drill.
“They don’t want the kids to just think it’s not serious. When we started releasing people, going into rooms, we had kids in closets. We had teachers in closets. We encountered a lot of tables up against the doors; some of the tables in the high school were turned over,” says Shearburn. “The students took it seriously, and that ultimate surprise part of it was really good because you don’t know if it’s a drill or if it’s real.”
From there, a team consisting of Shearburn, Black, the Jacksonville Police Department and ISD interim superintendent Joan Forney went to the junior high school to make sure everything was implemented properly there as well.
Shearburn called the lockdown a success. He says making sure everyone knows their role in the event of an emergency is very important with a school the size of ISD.
“It’s a major undertaking to lock down a 52-acre campus,” he says.
Shearburn says there will be a total of two lockdown drills this semester. Yesterday’s took place during classes; the second, which, like the first, will not be announced in advance, will happen during student residential activity.
This is the second lockdown drill enacted at a Jacksonville school since the Connecticut school shooting tragedy. Jacksonville High School students participated in a drill last month in which they were given several days’ notice.