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Friday, February 8, 2019

After a practice drill set one school into a panic, Seminole County will now implement new lockdown procedures

Posted By on Fri, Feb 8, 2019 at 3:40 PM

Seminole County Public Schools will implement new emergency lockdown procedures, SCPS and the Seminole County Sheriff's Office announced in a news release Friday.

Among the new procedures, SCPS will discontinue the use of "unannounced" Code Red Drills; prior notice will now be provided to students, staff, faculty, visitors and parents before the emergency drill exercise occurs.

The school district has also opted to provide ongoing education and training efforts pertaining to the drills, as well as training for the use of school safety technology and when the use of alert system functions are needed inside or outside the school environment.

What won't change is that lockdowns will continue to be initiated by a district employee or law enforcement official, the release notes. All interior or exterior doors will be locked in the case of an emergency, and students will be required to seek refuge in designated spaces, such as classroom corners. Once a lockdown is initiated, all individuals involved are required to remain in their location until the lockdown has been lifted.

On Dec. 7, an unannounced Code Red drill at Lake Brantley High School in Altamonte Springs left a number of students, teachers and parents unsettled. Believing there was an actual threat on campus, teachers jumped into action by safeguarding their classrooms. "Active Shooter reported at Brantley / Building 1 / Building 2 and other buildings by B Shafter at 10:21:45. Initiate a Code Red Lockdown," a text message to teachers read.

Turns out, though, the threat was only a drill.

However, the mass panic following the Code Red announcement was enough to encourage the school district's administrators to amend the policy.

"Developing procedures on topics like these require a significant strategic commitment by both of our organizations, as well as leadership across our community and in our schools," SCPS Superintendent Walt Griffin and Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma wrote in the release. "To keep our students, faculty and staff safe we are committed to placing school safety at the forefront of our agendas years ago, and we share that sentiment to this day, even as the environments and threats have changed."

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