Long-Planned School Lockdown Drill Postponed — Not the Right Time

Monday was not the time to put people on high alert, even if it was practice, said Novato Unified School District administrators.

Is this the time to conduct emergency lockdown drills at our public schools?

In Novato, the answer was no on Monday in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut. Compassion prevailed when a regularly scheduled drill at Olive Elementary School was postponed until frayed nerves might be a bit more calmed.

As soon as administrators at the Novato Unified School District assessed plans for a long-planned lockdown drill, Superintendent Shalee Cunningham put it on hold. She sent out a note to all principals at 8:53 a.m. Monday, and the text was shared with Novato Patch by communications director Leslie Benjamin.

"It was decided this was not a good thing to do today," Benjamin said.

Cunningham addressed the heroic actions of the teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary and said, "This week must be a time of calmness." She said counselors are available to any school that has a need.

Olive Principal Alison Gardner said a variety of emergency drills are scheduled throughout the year and she's confident the kids and staff are prepared. She said "it was clear" that Monday was not the best time to have a drill.

"Our job is to make the kids feel safe," she said.


Sound like a good move to you? Add a comment below.

Meantime, do you have any strong ideas about how Novato can better prepare for violence emergencies on school campuses? Read about the North Bay Security Group's role in the protection of schoolkids and staff members.

Patch has a site in Newtown, Conn., and the writers are doing an amazing job personalizing the tragedy. Click here for the series of tribute stories, including a new one about the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary.

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Patty Maher December 17, 2012 at 09:49 PM
I think I'll respectfully disagree with Anthony and Lothrop. Within days of the Virginia Tech massacre, the elementary school my two oldest attended conducted a drill. Both came home and told me about classmates crying during it. Rather than risk that again, I reached out to the principal at my elementary school before school today to recount that and to ask for notification if any drill was going to be held. By all means, consider me an overprotective parent of the worst kind. But I'm not going to stand by and have my kid or any kid go through a drill today or tomorrow and have them imagine what the Sandy Hook kids might have been going through.
Carrie Criswell December 17, 2012 at 10:00 PM
I agree with not doing it today--you have to consider that some (many?) of the kids will have heard about what happened, and having a drill for this very scenario would be really scary for kids.
Bob Ratto December 17, 2012 at 10:03 PM
I read this and initially thought they could go forward, but reading your post, I think I totally (and respectfully) agree with you. The timing is just plain crappy. Comparing it to the City Council is kind of tough, because I think it would be expected that a consultant would be hired to "study the issue", followed by another consultant to do an "implementation study"
Cindi Bunten December 17, 2012 at 10:53 PM
It was sensitive and sensible to postpone the drill. People are already on edge, they don't need to be pushed over. Plus, you often don't know what kids are really thinking or what they've heard. They can have crazy thoughts rolling around in their heads they are unable or unwilling to articulate. Do it soon, by all means, but now is too soon.
Cinda Weisgerber December 18, 2012 at 04:28 PM
On Sunday evening my housemate was telling her 11 year old daughter about the tragedy in Newtown so she would be prepared if any kids were talking about it at school. Her first reactions (unsolicited) were in regard for the parents who didn't have a kindergartener anymore and for the kids who saw their classmates killed. Then she actually talked about what she would have done to protect her classmates (and knowing her, I believe she would have) - she is a brave young girl. Having a drill at this sensitive time would be very insensitive. I feel the administration made the right decision.


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