Schools practice lockdown drills

About a half hour after students at Baldwin Elementary School practiced a lockdown drill, everyone was brought indoors once Manassas school officials heard about a shooting on the Va. 234 bypass.

“We decided that the safest thing to do was to bring them in,” said Manassas police Officer Greg Francis, who is assigned to the citys elementary schools on a permanent basis.

Prince William police are not sure if the person who shot out a truck window Wednesday on the Va. 234 bypass is the sniper that killed six people and wounded two others in the Washington area in the last week, said Sgt. Kim Chinn, police spokeswoman. It does not appear the shooting is related to the recent series of assassination-style sniper attacks, she said Wednesday.

Since the shooting spree started, teachers have been keeping blinds drawn and windows covered, which prepared them for a Code A lockdown drill on Wednesday, said Baldwin Principal Jeff Abt.

In all of the Manassas schools this week, students, faculty and staff have been preparing for emergency situations through practice of a Code A lockdown drill.

“Were constantly running scenarios through our minds,” said John Boronkay, assistant superintendent.

A Code A lockdown would be administered during a potential emergency situation such as an intruder entering the building or trying to enter the building, Francis said.

Once a Code A lockdown is announced, teachers and students need to clear the hallway, get to the nearest classroom, shut the door, which should always be locked, make sure windows are covered and blinds are drawn, Francis said.

“I also stress to do it quietly,” Francis said.

During the drill Wednesday, there was no moving and students remained quiet.

About 2 p.m. Principal Jeff Abt announced on the PA system, “Teachers and staff, can I have your attention please? Begin practice of the Code A lockdown.”

When Abt walked into the first classroom, all of the students were crouched in a corner with the lights off. It was difficult to see if anyone was in the classroom.

“Boys and girls, its Mr. Abt,” he assured the class. “Boys and girls, this is perfect.”

The staff made sure all blinds were drawn and all windows were covered. From the small window on the classroom door to the windows surrounding the building, the windows were covered and the lights were off.

The lights were off and the class seemed to be out of sight.

The computer room was left vacant since the students and teachers went to the nearest classroom and shut the door. The doors are supposed to remain locked throughout the day, therefore teachers just close the door during a lockdown, Abt said.

After checking inside the building, they checked the six trailers outside of the school. The trailers usually remain locked and only one trailer was had a class in it Wednesday, Abt said.

“Theyve done a nice job,” Abt said. “No surprise.”

About 16 minutes later, every door and window had been checked and the drill had concluded. Abt announced on the PA system the Code A lockdown drill was over.

To prepare for potential emergency situations, each class is given a bright orange emergency response kit. Contents in the kit including flashlight, name tags with pens and pencils used to identify the students and first aid kit.

“We have a plan that works,” Francis said.

Staff writer Jennifer Brennan can be reached at (703) 368-3101, Ext. 123.

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