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School Lockdown

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What is a lockdown?
A lockdown is a precautionary measure in response to a threat directly to the school or in the surrounding community.

The specific detailed policies for local high schools like Bret Hart and Sonora and for each local elementary school are not publicly available, first because they are updated regularly, and second, to prevent terrorists from interfering with planned security and emergency response actions.

In general a lockdown means:

  • All school activities are moved indoors.
  • All exterior doors on campus are locked.
  • No one is allowed to enter or exit the buildings or classrooms.
  • Parents may not come to the school during a lockdown.
  • Parents are also discouraged from calling the school directly. Additional calls hinder the ability of staff to respond to the primary task: keeping everyone safe.

There are three general lockdown types:

  • Code Red – used when there’s a direct threat to the school or in the immediate area of the school
  • Code Yellow – used when there’s a danger in the surrounding community, i.e. police searching for a criminal suspect in the area
  • Code Green – used once the lockdown has been lifted

How will I know if my child’s school is on lockdown? During a school lockdown,

Students back in class at Bret Harte High School
Students back in class at Bret Harte High School

police and school administrators work together to first ensure the safety of everyone on the school campus. Once the situation has been stabilized, media like and radio announcements on KKBN 93.5, Star 92.7, and AM 1450 KVML may be broadcast, and a phone message, email, facebook update, and/or paper letter will be sent to parents about the nature of the incident, and how long the lockdown was in place. In larger emergencies, such as a Code Red lockdown or lockdowns that affect numerous schools, Calaveras and Tuolumne schools will take the following steps to notify you:

  • dispatch an emergency phone message
  • update the school’s Facebook page, and the school’s home page
  • notify and update the local media as the situation develops

Emergency phone messages are sent to phone numbers that parents have provided to the school. Letters are usually sent home with students at the end of the day, or the following day if the lockdown happened close to dismissal.

Why didn’t I receive a phone message?  Each situation differs in the level of severity and how it impacts the school day and families. For instance, if a Code Yellow Lockdown is put into place but is lifted after just a few minutes with minimal impact to the school day, the principal or superintendent may decide he or she will send a letter home for information purposes. In Code Red type Lockdowns, parents will receive multiple forms of communication and are encouraged to watch or listen for updates.

Parents: please ensure your school has your most up-to-date emergency contact information on hand. In the event of a lockdown or other emergency, school staff will use that contact information to contact you. If you have not received a recorded phone message from your school during a lockdown, please check your contact information with the school.

Can I come to the school and take my child home? During a lockdown, your child’s school is a secure area. School officials and law enforcement are working together to keep everyone safe, and no one is allowed to enter or exit the school. To ensure everyone’s safety we ask that parents please refrain from coming to school campuses during a lockdown. Once the all-clear is given, students and staff will be permitted to enter or exit the school again.

Lockdown Drills similar to regular fire drills, schools may conduct lockdown drills to familiarize students and staff with the current crisis/lockdown plan and procedure.