After the precautionary lockdown was initiated on Wednesday, Sept. 26, many students and faculty members were in a state of confusion and conversation. All threats made to Timber Creek and its students are taken very seriously, so the lockdown was put into place as a safety measure.

“All measures were implemented to ensure that students and staff were not in danger,” Principal Michelle Somerhalder said in an email sent to the TCHS community.

The lockdown that took place on Wednesday, Sept. 26 was in response to “a photograph that was being distributed showing what appeared to be a handgun in a backpack,” Somerhalder explained in an email. The lockdown was implemented at 10:40 a.m. and lifted approximately 10 minutes later. “The student did not have a weapon and appropriate action was taken by TCHS Administration,” Somerhalder continued.

“It was a scary situation, real or not, it felt all too real,” said a Timber Creek student that would prefer to remain unidentified. “Everyone in my class was visibly shaken and unsure of how to feel.”

This student, like many others, was bewildered for the rest of the day, and had their parents pick them up from school after lunch. Despite the panic that arose when the lockdown was announced and implemented, the student’s teacher “followed protocol;¨ however, the students were instructed to remain at their desks.

“You could tell that [the teacher] was really scared for us and themselves, but we were still at our desks,” the student continued. “We [the class] could hear some disruption from the room in the hallway, but we had no idea what it could’ve been.”

Students and faculty were both affected by the lockdown, and left stunned and confused. The day after, many classes reflected on the occurrence as a group, one of which was Kim Smith’s class. The group sat together and shared their thoughts for the majority of the class.

“It didn’t hit me that a lockdown took place until it was over, but once it did, it was all I could think about,¨ one of Smith´s students, whom prefers to remain unidentified, stated. ¨I felt that my opinions and feelings were heard when we did that. It helped me understand what had just happened.¨

The Lockdown Protocol

Keller ISD requires that the schools in the district conduct monthly fire drills, as well as yearly lockdown, weather, reverse evacuation, and shelter-in-place drills. Just like a practice or rehearsal, students and faculty should treat every drill as though it were real.

Keller ISD’s lockdown protocol is referred to as an “intentional readiness technique,” as a lockdown is a “precautionary measure in response to a threat to a school or the surrounding community.” To ensure that the next lockdown, whether it be a drill or not, goes smoothly and safely, here’s a guideline of Keller ISD’s lockdown protocol, as well as other procedures to remain out of harm’s way:

– In a lockdown, interior and exterior doors should be locked. Interior doors with windows need to be covered, and blinds closed.

– In the event that a door will not lock, barricade the door with heavy objects.

– Students should be placed in a safe area, out of sight, and remain as quiet as possible.

– All lights and computer monitors in the classroom should be turned off, and cellphones should be silenced.

– If a student is not in their classroom when a lockdown is implemented, faculty is still required to lock their doors. Students are advised to find a room with a lockable door, and stay out of sight.

– Do not open any windows or doors until the lockdown is lifted, or a security official comes to unlock the door manually.

– Students and faculty should try to refrain from using technology. If technology is being used, the screen should be as dim as possible, and should be silenced.

– Students and faculty should stay calm, still, and alert.

It is important to note that “in the history of school shootings, no perpetrator has ever breached a locked classroom door,” according to the Keller ISD Safety and Security web page. By knowing the procedures, and treating every drill seriously, students and faculty may be more prepared, and feel safer during a real lockdown.

Following the Lockdown

Immediately following the school day on Sept. 26, an all-staff meeting was held in the Fine Arts Center to discuss the situation and give teachers and staff an opportunity to voice their concerns and hear from Keller ISD security administrators. A number of suggestions from that meeting were immediately put into place, including re-training all teachers during an Oct. 9 professional development day on the terminology and protocols for various emergencies.

All teachers at Timber Creek have received Emergency Operation Plans for multiple scenarios, including lockdowns, weather-related events, evacuations and other protocol. These processes were reviewed at the Oct. 9 professional development day and additional questions from staff were also answered.

On Oct. 9, new teachers and faculty underwent a Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE) training in response to the lockdown. The training was taught by the Fort Worth Police Department, as Keller ISD is always looking to maximize the drill process district wide. A training had been held previously for teachers and staff at Timber Creek during the 2017-2018 school year.

Additional Information and Previous Coverage

Click here to read Principal Michelle Somerhalder’s letter to Falcon families for more information about the lockdown that took place.

Click here to be directed to Keller ISD’s School Safety and Security web page.

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By Brooke Boyer

Brooke is a senior at TCHS and Editor in Chief for the Timber Creek Talon. She loves theatre and bad karaoke.

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