Columbia High School staff were trained and prepared to react swiftly to yesterday’s Code Red lockdown in both keeping students safe and helping them cope with any stress, reported Principal Elizabeth Aaron.
Aaron commented on the staff response in answer to a query from The Village Green about whether or not there had been a Code Red drill at the high school this year. An actual Code Red lockdown was enacted yesterday after it was reported that a student brought a weapon to school. Maplewood police later arrested the student who was in possession of brass knuckles. A search for an individual who is not a student but who may have been outside the school continues.
Aaron reported that the school conducted drills for a fire and school evacuation in September and a fire drill and Code Yellow in October. The CHS Code Red drill was scheduled for November.
“Whether or not students may have been confused or worried as we went into a Code Red lockdown on order of the Maplewood Police, I can say again with confidence that our staff acted swiftly and as trained, and they reported and we saw that students overwhelmingly did exactly what we needed them to do and have taught them to do during drills,” wrote Aaron in an email. “The Maplewood Police fully debriefed with the CHS administrative team after the event so that we could review the events of the afternoon, ask questions, hear answers, and move forward making any and all decisions we need to to keep our students and staff safe and focused on learning.”
Several students spoke to The Village Green about their reaction to the Code Red drill in a story yesterday. “We were kind of freaked out and waiting for something to happen,” one student said. “Some kids were shaking.” Another student reported, “Our teacher had made us feel entirely secure…she has a calming presence and made the experience as stress-free as possible.”
Aaron said that one of the “most frustrating” parts of the day managing the number of parents who entered the building to take their children home at 2:15.
“It was disruptive and prevented school security staff from working with me on other matters,” wrote Aaron, “and it was disruptive to teachers and students in classrooms that were ones in which parents were asking us to locate students to take them home. I regret that parents do not trust us to keep their students safe, nurtured, and learning at all times, even during a day like today. It is precisely the work we are committed to doing and trained to do. ”
Aaron explained that “any student who was experiencing difficulty or stress from the events of the day would have been, as always, cared for and supported by the staff and administration at CHS, whether that meant a teacher calling upon a nurse, a guidance or student assistance counselor, or a member of our administrative team, or taking time from instruction to address the social and emotional needs of our students.” She noted that “after an event like this, it is actually and often more helpful for students to remain at school so that trained school staff and counselors can facilitate any concerns they have.”
Aaron said that after the lockdown ended, “all of our staff quickly turned their attention to their professional educational responsibility, that is, teaching and supporting their students, as we resumed the rest of the school day.”
“Our CHS staff knows that they have the full support of their administrative team, and no teacher would or should feel as if they would not be supported while making decisions to manage the after-effects of an experience like the one we shared today. Our day ended calmly with students finishing out Period 7, and attending after school events or meetings as scheduled. We conducted a brief faculty meeting to update all of our staff on the events and to answer questions.”