Lockdown drills help Lunenburg County students and staff prepare

Published 2:42 pm Thursday, August 25, 2022

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LUNENBURG COUNTY – Years ago, going back to school meant seeing friends, learning new things and the occasional fire drill that stopped classes and teachers ushered students outside. 

Today, things look different for students returning to school. Fire drills are still held, but schools across the Commonwealth are holding required lockdown drills.

Lunenburg County Public Schools (LCPS) will be conducting drills for lockdown procedures in each of its schools during the week of Aug. 22. 

“Lockdown drills prepare students and staff to respond in the event of a lockdown by teaching and practicing actions to stay safe and quiet in classrooms or other parts of the school.” LCPS Superintendent Charles Berkley Jr. said. “Students learn the basic imperatives to follow instructions, stay quiet, and stay calm.” 

The requirements for Lunenburg County

The Code of Virginia Lockdown Drills § 22.1-137.2. states in every public school, there shall be a lockdown drill at least once during the first 20 school days of each school session so that students and teachers may be thoroughly practiced in such drills. Every public school shall hold at least two additional lock-down drills after the first 60 days of the school session.

Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students shall be exempt from mandatory participation in lock-down drills during the first 60 days of the school session.

Lockdown drills are exercises students and educators practice in the event that an intruder gains access to the school building or a threat is administered. These drills aim to remove students and school staff from the threat and keep the threat isolated from as many areas of the school as possible. Each school and state perform lockdown drills differently. Some schools administer either announced or unannounced active shooter drills, while others stick with classroom door lockdown drills without any simulation.

District works on mapping

“Students naturally look to adults for guidance and instructions, and lockdown drills help staff prepare to quickly assess the situation, make decisions, and guide students to safety while managing their own anxiety responses,” Berkely said. 

In addition to practicing lockdown drills, Berkley said LCPS is in the process of digital mapping of school facilities. “This will enable law enforcement and emergency services such as fire and rescue access to all areas of our facilities in case of any emergency situation that may arise,” he said. 

Another way schools are working to keep students safe is by employing school resource officers (SRO). 

The SRO provides a highly visible presence to deter or identify trespassers on school grounds. In addition, SROs provide a service to the surrounding community by addressing concerns such as loitering, running stop signs, or speeding in school zones.

Currently, LCPS employees resource officers at both secondary schools and one shared resource officer at the two elementary schools.