For parents: What happens during a lockdown?

What is a lockdown?

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

  • All school activities are moved indoors.
  • Depending on the type of lockdown, interior and exterior doors on campus are locked.
  • No one is allowed to enter or exit the building.
  • 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 lockdown codes at WCPSS:

  • 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?

Once a lockdown is put into place, police and school administrators work together to first ensure the safety of everyone on the school campus. Once the situation has been stabilized, a phone message, email and/ or paper letter will be sent to parents to inform them that the school was placed on a lockdown, the nature of the incident, and about how long the lockdown was in place.

In larger emergencies, such as a Code Red lockdown or lockdowns that affect numerous schools, WCPSS will take the following steps to notify you:

  • dispatch an emergency phone message
  • update the WCPSS Facebook page, Twitter account (@wcpss) and the WCPSS 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, your principal may decide he or she will send a letter home for information purposes. In other cases, principals will decide to send both an emergency phone message and a paper letter home.

In a more severe Code Red Lockdown, parents will receive multiple forms of communication. This could include multiple phone messages, as well as written letters after the fact. During a Code Red Lockdown, parents should also look to the WCPSS home page and the WCPSS Twitter (@wcpss) and Facebook accounts for the most recent information. Parents are also encouraged to watch or listen to local media 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.