Locking down practice By: Sunjin Chang

According to CNN, there has been at least one shooting per day in 2018. In preparation for the possibility of an active shooter on campus, MVHS participated in a lockdown drill on Oct. 23 during the last few minutes of second period, leading into the first 20 minutes of tutorial. During the drill, teachers locked the doors, turned off the lights and closed the blinds. Students built internal barricades using the furniture available in their classrooms, while school resource officers and administrators went around spot-checking classrooms.

Previously, the lockdown drill was referred to as the “Code Red Drill,” indicating that there was an active crime happening on campus. To clear up confusion between “Code Red” and “Code Blue,” there was an official name change to “Lockdown Drill” for “Code Red” and “Shelter in Place” for “Code Blue.” During lockdown drills in past years, students would immediately grab their bags, desks and other stackable materials to create a barricade by the door. For English teacher Lynn Rose, the decision to not put up a barricade by the door this year was very helpful.

“It was a lot easier on my side to focus on the interior barricade [since previously] I was told that I was supposed to drag my bookcases from across the room, take all my books out, and those should be up against the door — even for a drill,” Rose said. “I didn’t think that it was necessary to tear my room apart for the drill [but] if it was a real emergency, I would move heaven and earth to put everything that I could in front of that door.”

Graphic by: Helen Chao

According to school resource officer Corey Chao, a few months ago, there was a meeting between administrators and law enforcement officers, where they decided that barricading the doors was a fire hazard. Thus, they agreed to abide by the fire code, no longer putting up barricades by the doors, or enforcing secondary locking devices during drills. In case of a real threat to the students’ safety, however, teachers can determine whether building a door barricade — in addition to the other measures — would prevent further injury. If the teacher does not set up a barricade by the door, they would not be held liable.

“We tell them that if you feel that it's necessary to put up a barricade and put up a secondary locking device in the event of an active shooter, then feel free to, but we can't tell you that you have to because then we would be telling them to break the law so it's an option if they would like,” Chao said. “[If I was a teacher] I would barricade, secondary lock device and set up the best internal barricade and do the best I could.”

Though barricades by the door may no longer be necessary, internal barricades are still extremely important as studies have shown that many previous shooters have used rifles when conducting their attack. Chao says these rifles have rounds that are specifically shaped and filled with powder, making them very powerful and able to puncture through walls as if going through paper.

“If you have an internal barricade inside the classroom and it's basically very good with no gaps, most likely the round [when it comes into the classroom] hits that, deflects and you have a less of a chance of being hit by that round,” Chao said.

Through these drills, MVHS hopes to avoid what happened on Feb. 14 to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, when a shooter opened fire on the school after pulling a fire alarm. As he fired, he watched the fearful students run out. Their school resource officer was caught on video not responding to the sounds of gunshots.

Chao states that the school resource officer at the scene may have followed their policies and waited for his partner to arrive at the scene before going in to find the shooter. According to Chao, studies have proven that when a shooter is confronted by law enforcement, they either go down shooting or they end their own lives.

“Our policy was very similar to that — but it's changed where we are going to go in by ourselves and engage the shooter so that way he'll stop,” Chao said. “The faster we can engage them, the faster we can stop the shooting, [so] we go in automatically — we don't wait.”

To prevent future incidents like this, Chao reminds the MVHS community that in the case of an unplanned accident, such as a fire alarm going off unexpectedly, students should remain calm. As for teachers, they should open the door, check their surroundings to see if there’s any sign of fire and in case of a fire, calmly follow the teacher’s guide as they exit their classrooms.

“There's no reason to run, unless [the fire is] right there on you. So I tell them, ‘Open the door, pop your head out, look left [and] right’ because it could've been a rouse,” Chao said. “If they come out and see somebody with a gun or you hear gunfire, then get back in and lockdown.”

In the case of an emergency occurring when the majority of students are outside their classrooms, students should listen to where the gunfire is coming from and run the opposite way to safety or seek shelter in a classroom within a close proximity.

“That's why we have three steps, you're going to run first and if you can't run, you're going to hide,” Chao said. “If you're hiding and the guy gets into the room, then you're going to have to defend yourself. So that's why we do the run, hide and defend.”

After the drill on Tuesday, many students came out feeling as if though the drill was a waste of time, as they could’ve been studying for later tests or catching up on homework. Rose believes that though it may have been a bit time-consuming, it was definitely a practice that needed to be done as it could possibly save students’ lives.

“I think teachers take it seriously because we know we’re ultimately responsible for students in any kind of emergency [but] I don’t know if students always take it seriously,” Rose said. “Yes, these are bothersome and yes, they cut into tutorial, and none of us like to think that that’s something that would actually happen, but as with any emergency it’s better to be prepared than not.”

Out of the many classrooms on campus, there were a few classrooms personally checked by the school resource officers. Senior Sophia Liu was patiently waiting for the “all clear” call when an officer knocked on her classroom’s door, checked the locks and the internal barricades. Though Liu believes that the drill is a bit time-consuming, she understands that the practice prepares her in case of a real emergency.

“When our classroom was checked and when the officers walked in they seemed pleased with our barricade,” Liu said. “But they were also satisfied with our teacher’s preparedness since she was holding onto a fire hydrant ready to attack in case of an intruder.”

However, other students felt it was a waste of time as not every classroom was checked. Chao says this kind of practice is very important, as it instills a muscle memory within the students. In the case of an actual emergency, where people are stressed and overwhelmed, they can rely on this muscle memory to protect themselves.

“I believe in practice because when you get tired or when you get stressed out, you don't think, [and when] there's so much going on, it just comes back to your muscle memory,” Chao said. “That's why police officers too, we train all the time, [because] there's a lot of times when we're in stressful situations and we just come back to our training, so that's why we train a lot and that's why we have you guys train.”

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