Following Parkland, School Holds Lockdown Drills

During a lockdown drill, the blinds are closed in David Cutler’s classroom. Gator file photo.

Following the shooting at Marjory Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last month, the community engaged in two lockdown drills.

Head of School Judith Guild announced the drills, emphasizing that the ultimate goal is to “ensure student safety.”

Most schools follow similar procedures for lockdown drills, beginning by closing and locking classroom doors. Students are then moved to the safest part of a room, away from windows and doors. Teachers also pull down shades, while administrators give updates on the loudspeaker.

English Teacher Kenley Smith said that she feels confident about the School’s lockdown initiative.

“Although it’s tragic that we have to have lockdown drills, they are a necessity,” Smith said. “That’s just the way the world is. I appreciate that Brimmer is having us practice them. They are making us safer.”

Camille Cherney ’20 is also pleased with the School’s initiative, but she is concerned about some student reactions.

“I’m happy that Brimmer is addressing safety concerns. But the lockdowns drills seem that they aren’t taken seriously by some,” Cherney said.

Claire Masterson ’20 echoed Cherney’s statement, saying, “I just don’t think some people understand the importance of these drills.”

A School committee, comprised of administrators and teachers, is working to improve lockdown drills and safety procedures.

The Gator sat down with Head of Upper School Joshua Neudel, a member of the committee, to talk about student concerns.

The Gator: Recently, students have commented on Brimmer’s safety policies, especially lockdown drills. A lot of the talk has been about what the School can do to improve safety, especially after the recent shooting in Parkland.

Neudel: I think that if students have any specific concerns regarding safety, then they need to speak to myself, Mrs. Guild, or Bob Rooney, who is the CFO. It’s very worrisome to me that people are feeling this way. We definitely want to know what these concerns are. When it comes to things like safety, knowing concerns and knowing the numbers are very important. Regarding safety, I know that the school is in the process of hiring consultants who do a lot of work in schools. They will come in to evaluate procedures, how to update procedures and the physical plant, evaluate physical plans, and to find out what can be done. The School is also working closely with both the Newton and Brookline police and fire departments to make sure that we’re up to date with what their policies and have a strong relationship. They’ve also told us that we’re ahead of many schools, in terms of our safety procedures.

The Gator: How do you feel about Brimmer’s lockdown drills and policies?

Neudel: I’m glad that we have them, and I’m glad that we’re practicing them. I think that the landscape of what you do in situations is changing so quickly, because it’s based off of the most recent philosophies around safety. It’s not like a fire drill. Fire drills have mostly stayed the same since I was little. But with this, you have to think about the idea of a lockdown drill, and what people are thinking. There are so many different scenarios that can take place in a situation like that. It’s important for us to be wary. There isn’t a “one size fits all” for every case. I think we’ve done a good job with evaluating what needs to be changed, what parts of the building need updating, and where we need outside support to make sure that everyone feels safe and secure. We’re really working hard.

The Gator: Do you think we need to be doing more lockdown drills? 

Neudel: We’re planning to do another one this year. It’s important that we do these for the benefit of the community. It is sad, however, that emergency drills are going to become a regular practice in schools because of the tragedies that are taking place.

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