School Changes Policy After Lockdown Scare

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Van Buren school administrators are changing school policy when it comes to emergency drills. That's after a lockdown drill at North Ridge Middle School had one student pretty scared.

"I just got a text that said [the school was] on lockdown," said Erica Hyatt, whose daughter Skylar is in 8th grade at the middle school. "The next thing she said was 'Mom, I'm scared.'"

Skylar said she wasn't alone. She told her mom that several students asked to borrow her cell phone during the lockdown drill to text their parents, worried something was happening inside the school building.

North Ridge Middle School was on lock down. Students sat in the dark and were told by their teachers to be quiet, Hyatt explained.

"The first thing I thought back to was the shooting at Sandy Hook," Hyatt said. "But then I was like, 'ask your teacher what's going on.' And she said, 'they wont tell us anything but to remain quiet.' And so I instantly picked up my work phone and started calling the school. And I got busy signals. So I was panicking."

Hyatt found out after the fact that the school was just having a surprise drill. But only the school staff and administrators knew about the drill.

"The purpose of drilling is to create an environment where we can observe how the students react and how they follow instructions to do what we need them to do you know we have a fire, a tornado, an earthquake, or even a lockdown," explained Kerry Schneider, who serves as the Deputy Superintendent for the Van Buren School District.

The district told 5NEWS they didn't alert students or parents before the drill because they wanted it to feel as real as possible.

"Administrators met today in our regular monthly meeting and talked about a plan to notify parents prior to all drills so that if this happens again parents for the most part will have been notified," Schneider said Wednesday.

The new policy is effective immediately, Schneider said.

"With the recent things that have happened in the United States, it's a legitimate concern," Schneider explained. "That's why we acted as quickly as we did to make sure we are doing everything we can keep the parents informed.

Schneider said parents will be told before another drill happens, but is asking that parents do not tell their children about the drills beforehand. Schneider said that's so the school is able to accurately see how how students respond in emergency situations.