“We are in a lockdown. I don’t think it’s a drill.”
That was the text I had from my husband Friday at lunchtime. I was on my way to pick up our son on an early release day, and I saw the text as I sat in the car rider’s line. The second text came through and the lockdown was over. I wasn’t sure which school he was at, and once he confirmed where he was working that day, I realized he was across the street from our son’s school.
I didn’t think much about what might be happening at neighboring schools. The car rider line took a while to get going, but it’s always a little slow. The thought briefly crossed my mind that all of the schools in the area might be on lockdown, but surely I would have known something, right? I mean, I was just a few cars back from picking up my child. Once my son was in the car I asked him if anything weird happened at school.
“Nope. I don’t think so.”
As I was pulling into my driveway, a call came through from the school system. We get these robo calls weekly and they are usually the principal reviewing the week, a fundraiser or some other special event. That’s what I expected. Instead it was a call letting me know that my child’s school was under lockdown for a short period of time that day due to an incident in the vicinity. Nothing happened at the four schools in the area, but they were all on a soft lockdown.
I asked my son if they had a lockdown and his response was a very nonchalant, “It was just a soft lockdown. We didn’t have to run for our lives today. We just had to lock the door.”
My child is 6 and thought he was fine because he and his classmates didn’t have to run for their lives today.
He proceeded to tell me the difference between a soft lockdown and a hard lockdown. He’s been through a few drills in recent years. Even his preschool had drills, but as a parent you think of fire drills. Not school shooting drills.
One other thing to note. I was sitting in a line outside of my child’s school while they were under a lockdown – and I had no idea. A friend texted me after 1:00 because she had just gotten word that her husband was working in one of the schools where a lockdown occurred, and the teachers were not notified of what was going on. (I received a call because I’m a parent of a kid at one of those schools, but my husband did not receive a call.)
Here’s the thing. I feel like my child is safe. It takes some work for ME to get him out of school, or just for me to get into the front office, much less his classroom during the day. And I know his teachers and those staff would do everything to keep my boy safe.
I don’t know how I feel about the other schools, or the schools my husband works in.
This past week, the school shootings discussion has turned to arming educators in the classroom.
Do I think teachers should be armed? Absolutely not. Do I think something needs to change? Definitely.
But why has it come to this? Why are we even entertaining the idea of arming our teachers? Why are young children having to learn the difference between soft and hard lockdowns? Why is someone suggesting giving pay raises to teachers who are armed, rather than paying teachers what they are worth? By the way, I haven’t come across a single educator who wants to have a gun in the classroom.
Fast forward through our weekend and we stayed busy. I try to avoid the news when the kids are awake – I just don’t need my son to be stressed even more by the daily occurrences. He’s a smart kid and he picks up on current events easily. It seems guns are constantly in the news, and while I want him to be aware, he’s just 6. He should be able to enjoy his time in his single digits.
(I want my boy to be able to live carefree and be safe – and to have fun doing that. Is that too much to ask?)
This is one of those moments that I think homeschooling would be such a great choice, but that’s not an option for us. (So please don’t go there with me on homeschooling. Some of us don’t have the means to make that happen.)
Our schools tend to do lockdown drills in February, but because of the shooting in Florida the drills are being moved to a later date – it’s a sensitive time, after all. They were not anticipating a real lockdown just 9 days after 17 lost their lives in the Florida school shooting. While I’m glad that the schools are preparing for what seems to be inevitable, I wonder how we got to this point.
This is not ok. This whole situation was not ok. We are better than this. We owe our kids to be better than this.