Tuesday morning activities at Great Bend High School included a lockdown drill, Assistant Principal Daryl Moore said. The drill was scheduled in advance with three officers from the Great Bend Police Department there to assist and to practice their own procedures.
Officials described the drill as a “soft lockdown” or a “lockdown continue-to-teach drill.”
“The purpose of the drill is to prepare for a situation when we would have a suspicious person or persons outside the building,” Moore said. “The outside doors are locked and monitored. Students are not allowed to pass between the PAC (Panther Activity Center) and the main building. Classrooms are locked but the teacher continues to teach.”
During a drill, students are allowed some freedom to move in the building.
“In the drill we evaluate how long it takes for the outside doors to be secured, the classroom doors locked and the amount of necessary movement inside the building,” Moore said.
Several scheduled drills are required at all public schools by the state, according to USD 428 Public Information Director Andrea Bauer. Kansas requires a minimum of four fire drills, two tornado drills and three crisis drills every year.
According to the Office of the Kansas Fire Marshal, a bill passed in 2018 required schools to conduct nine crisis drills, four fire drills and three tornado drills, for a total of 16 drills per school year. However, the total number of drills proved to be overwhelming for many school districts. Governor Laura Kelly signed Senate Bill 128 into law on April 10, 2019, changing the number of safety drills K-12 schools must perform each year from 16 to nine.
Crisis drills don’t necessarily involve intruder scenarios. They should reflect events that could potentially occur in the schools and can include a water main break, earthquake, missing student, active shooters or medical emergencies, according to the Fire Marshal’s office.
“We have these drills because the safety of our students and staff is our most important responsibility,” Moore said. “We plan to be prepared for the worst and then we pray that we never have to use a lockdown for real.”
Tuesday’s drill provided experience for what to do in a real situation, he said. “With lockdowns, speed is a factor and by practicing we hope to gain speed as well as have the students know what they need to do in a crisis.”
Moore added that because the drills are meant to ensure the safety of staff and students, the school does not release more detailed information to the public as security information could be used by someone intending harm.