Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Barrett to Practice Safety

To prepare for an attack by someone entering a school or the release of an airborne hazard, the county schools are working with the county police to practice “lockdown,” and “shelter-in-place,” drills intended to let faculty and staff prepare for an attack. Students are included to some degree, said Lt. Pat Babcock of the Arlington County Police’s School Resource Unit.

“I consider it less intrusive than a fire drill,” he said.

Next week on Tuesday Oct. 2, K.W. Barrett will hold its shelter-in-place and tornado drills which are similar, said Principal Terry Bratt. The practice lockdown, which aims to protect students in the event of an intruder, or a criminal nearby, has been changed to Oct. 23.

She said that her Tiger TV (the morning announcements) presentation will explain to the children what is happening and that, similar to practicing math or reading skills, “This is how we practice to keep ourselves safe.”

Lt. Babcock said the police are practicing with each school individually and that no one outside the school would be able to tell that it was going on.

“You’d be oblivious to it,” he said, even though, “it’s done during school.”
During her PTA meeting presentation, on Sept. 11, Mrs. Bratt said the first lockdown her school faced was during the “Beltway Sniper” attacks of 2002. She has completed two a year since then. The first one is announced so that students are not surprised, and parents are not alarmed.

“Then we do another one to make sure they’re listening well,” she said in a recent interview.

In 2005, Washington-Lee High School was locked down for the final 90 minutes one day because a boy made violent threats to his sister in an internet chatroom. He was using a computer screen name she did not recognize, a police press release said at that time.

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