Cracking the code

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Cracking the code

Amrutha Dorai

 

Students and teachers prepare for the first code red drill of the year

As an alarm sounded during second period on Thursday, Oct. 18, teachers and students immediately began to block doors and windows, build barricades and hide in silence, as if they had the process down to a science. Students may only be involved in the drill for about 30 minutes, but such drills require the preparation and collaboration of different departments and teachers in advance.

[audio: https://elestoque.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/History-teacher-Bonnie-Belshe-1.mp3] History teacher Bonnie Belshe explains how she prepares her class for Code Red situations

Although administration attempts to simulate the sudden event of an intruder on campus, teachers were informed a week beforehand of the exact date and time of the drill. That being said, according to Assistant Principal Michael Hicks, who has helped plan and execute Code Red drills for the past five years, spontaneity is key. Therefore, in some situations, teachers may only be alerted that there will be a Code Red practice as late as the day of the drill.

These state-mandated drills occur at least once a year and require the collaboration of both the administrators and the local sheriffs. According to Hicks, the sheriffs give administration feedback on successful barricading attempts as well as suggestions for improvement after checking rooms for security.

Additionally, teachers have developed their own methods of securing the doors to their classrooms— with belts, PVC pipes, rulers and even Velcro.

[audio: https://elestoque.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Woodshop-teacher-Ted-Shinta.mp3] Woodshop teacher Ted Shinta describes the differences between a Code Red drill and an actual Code Red situation

“[The district] did at one time provide clamps to keep the doors locked even if somebody had a key to get in. Other than that, any other equipment besides the furniture in our classroom comes from our own pocket,” history teacher Viviana Montoya-Hernandez said. “I haven’t personally purchased anything, but I know there are teachers that have … to keep their students safe.”

According to Montoya-Hernandez, the district also provides multiple manuals with detailed images and descriptions of emergency procedures and even offers to have people come in and personally demonstrate courses of action to teachers. The ultimate goal of these drills is to ensure that in the case of a real emergency, precautions will be taken as efficiently as possible.

“The sooner, the better — ideally [everything should be done] in a couple of minutes,” Hicks said.

[audio: https://elestoque.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/History-teacher-Viviana-Montoya-Hernandez.mp3] History teacher Viviana Montoya-Hernandez elaborates on the psychological importance of Code Red drills

The school does have goals for Code Red drills in the future, said Hicks, including releasing announcements over the PA system as to the effectiveness of the drill and coordinating a protocol with nearby schools Kennedy Middle School and Lincoln Elementary School.