I worked this afternoon. That means I had a substitute teaching job at the local high school. I picked up the key and signed in. As I was about to head to my first class, the secretary said, "Just a minute. We are having a Lockdown drill at 1:00. The students don't know but here is the procedure." She handed me a sheet with the instructions which were straight forward enough. Close the blinds, lock the door, shut out the lights. The students know where they are required to sit until the all clear.
Grade 9 math and they had a quiz. Everyone got into place and I handed out the quizzes. I found myself, not anxious exactly but a little apprehensive. Lockdown. If there is ever an armed intruder, or a situation where someone with a firearm might be in the school, the lockdown might save lives. What a world, I thought where 15 year olds in one of the safest countries in the world has to practice evasion of an armed threat.
The signal went and I closed blinds, locked doors and shut off the lights. We sat in the designated area against a wall in the hope that someone intent on causing us harm wouldn't be able to see us. The alarm continued and everyone sat quietly. THUMP, THUMP. Someone pounded on the door. Everyone remained quiet until the person had left. A bit later, the all clear came.
One girl said, "I was scared when the banging came on the door." We knew it was a drill and yet...is this what we've come to?
While I was busy condemning the horror that is modern life, it suddenly reminded me of the bomb threats. Yes, years ago at this very school, the secretaries would answer the phone to hear someone say. "A bomb has been planted in the school."
The RCMP would be notified and everyone was sent home. Then the police would open and search lockers, the hallways, everywhere. Nothing was found. Conveniently, these threats would come when the weather was particularly pleasant. The policy was changed because the danger had been assessed and although the calls were still taken seriously, now the whole student body waited a safe distance away on the football field.
The last call that came said, "There will be a bomb threat at 1:00." We waited in the football field and eventually were allowed back into the school. The caller was apprehended and further threats ceased. The calls had apparently been a clumsy, but dangerous ploy to get a day off school.
I think there is a difference. Once the threats were evaluated and the danger deemed minor, there was a change in procedure. Once the caller was caught, the threats ended. Totally. School shootings haven't ended and although there are so many more in our American neighbour's schools, the threat never goes away. Sadly, my condemnation may not have been as far off. Today we must prepare for the unthinkable.
I've been writing on and off for years and this is where my more serious pieces will be.