Saturday, September 22, 2012


This week we taught and practiced the General Response Protocols (GRP) for emergency situations.  Each protocol has specific staff and student actions that are unique to each response - from the relatively mundane routine of a fire drill to the frightening realism of a hard lockdown.

We began with a conversation about classroom rules and staying safe in school. We established an understanding of new vocabulary--such as evacuation and procedure--whilst reviewing the handy dandy safety PowerPoint provided for us by the good folks at the "i love U guys" Foundation.

We were old pros when it came to following the procedure for a fire drill.  Our timing was as good as Ricky, Fred and Ethel's when they had a dry run preceding the birth of Little Ricky on I Love Lucy.  It went like clockwork - stop talking and listen for directions, get in line, exit the building and go to our assigned location. Piece of cake.

The Shelter-In was no problem either because basically we do nothing.  We go about our business, unless of course our business involves leaving the building.  That is one thing you cannot do during a shelter-in.

A hard lockdown is another story. My co-teacher Michelle chose a good day to stay home.  I had to delicately finesse my way through the murky waters alone (upstream, without a paddle, at night...). This is scary stuff and I didn't want to frighten the little kindergarten children so I tried to find the proper tone, a mix of seriousness and adventure.

A hard lockdown implies that imminent danger is INSIDE the building and everyone needs to get to their safe place immediately! I told them this meant someone was in the building that shouldn't be there and to stay safe I needed to lock the doors (which I pretended to do as I talked with them to provide an unhurried, calm demonstration) and we all needed to go quietly to the large coat closet and hide.

We did.

There were a few nervous giggles as we stood there hiding before I announced, "The lockdown has been lifted" and we went back to the rug.

Once we were on the rug the questions started...

"Does that mean someone has a gun and wants to hurt us?"

"What happens if he gets in?"

"What if there is a fire in our safe place during the lockdown" (I thought, "what a wonderfully thought out, outrageous question!" and was fumbling for an answer when the little boy said, "Well, that'll never happen").

And then the tears..

"If they get us that means we'll never see our mommy's or daddy's again." (She started to cry, I started to cry.)

And finally the comic relief...

"Next time we practice a lockdown can we do it when I'm not here?"

You and me both kid, you and me both!


Cindy said...

We practiced tornado drills this week. In my class, we call them turtle drills. You have to get inside your shell and protect your neck. Turtles don't talk, so you can't either.
I tell me little ones why we are practicing, but I also tell them that I've never seen a tornado and they probably won't either. This is a just in case practice.

Gary said...

Cindy - I like the idea of turtle drills. It makes things very clear. Given the way things are going weather-wise we may be doing tornado drills in New York.

Greg Smedley said...

I'm actually envious of your specific drills. We don't have specific drills, we just have a "security dril" and we never know why. I wish I knew if the danger was outside or imminent inside so I could better protect my children. We are located in a neighborhood that is subject to much violence and gunfire is common so I wish we had better plans in place. When it comes to tornados, we are well versed because tornados are common in our area. In fact, we have a siren at our school and the location of our classroom means we hear the siren and have moved to our safe place before the principal calls for us to seek shelter.


Smedley's Smorgasboard of Kindergarten


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