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As police in Taft, Calif., sort through the details of yet another school shooting on Thursday, Shelby County Public Schools continued its district-wide practice of lock-down protocol.
Shelby County High School had law enforcement, medical and emergency services out to the school to help conduct a full lock-down drill, and Principal Eddie Oakley and the school’s visitors said they were pleased with what they saw.
“It’s on our mind every day, student safety and how we can keep our kids safe,” Oakley said. “We wanted to go over the basics – make sure our kids are tucked away and doors are locked. I thought everybody did a fantastic job.”
This was the school’s third lock-down drill this school year, and it consisted of an announcement that the school would be closed off. Teachers, students, administration and visitors then followed procedures to lock doors and turn off the lights.
The teachers then proceeded to let first responders know with a quick glance that rooms are OK. The law enforcement, medical and emergency crews walked the halls, banging on doors and testing personnel and students to make sure they’re quiet.
“We had a few procedural issues that didn’t go just right, but overall it was great,” Oakley said. “There are always a few things that could be better.”
Earlier this week Oakley said he discussed the process with staff, and Wednesday and Thursday teachers reminded students of the procedures. Then on Thursday they went into lockdown.
“Kids know this is a drill, so you have kids being kids sometimes,” he said. “But anytime you have a tragedy like that [in Newtown, Conn.], and you hear about it and see it, they, students and staff, take it a lot more seriously.”
After the meeting, the group held a debriefing, discussing what they say and what could be improved.
However, the rest of the group openly discussed the positives and negatives of the drill.
Director of Emergency Management Paul Whitman and Sheriff’s Det. Jason Rice both said they were impressed with the school’s performance and the commitment from the students and the staff to treat the drill properly.
“Especially with this being such a big facility,” Rice said, “I thought it went really well.”
Several EMS and EMA staff members said there were a few procedures that they saw that were not followed, but nothing major, only small incidents. Students still were well protected and where they were supposed to be, if not in the original planned way.
And when checked on, students in the JROTC department joked that they were ready, if needed.
“All in all, I thought things went great,” Oakley said. “And I’d like to invite you all back for a procedure that happens during a class change, because that’s a lot different. It’s a much more vocal procedure, using the radios and with us walking the hallways.
“And I’d like you come back anytime, just drop in and see us.”