New lockdown procedure put in place

Blue light system aims to provide more accessibility


Kaia Myers

Photo illustration by Kaia Myers. Students follow the lockdown procedure by crouching in the corner of C377.

Marta Hill, Isabel Kjaer, and Kaia Myers

As part of the referendum passed in 2017, the district made a special effort to focus on safety, according to facilities and safety manager for the district Thomas Bravo. Bravo said as a result of the focus on safety, the blue light system was implemented

“When we got the referendum approved in 2017, one of the things that we said that we were going to do is put in a system to help students and staff who can’t hear the sound, but need a visual,” Bravo said. “So we went out and did some investigating and found the system that a lot of districts use. We call it the blue light system.” 

According to Bravo, the blue light system is a way for the administration to further its efforts to protect the schools in the district.

“It’s something that we’ve seen at the elementary schools (that) is working really pretty good, and we feel that’s what we need to do in this district to continue protecting our staff, students, customers, community members, so forth,” Bravo said. “Ten years from now, it might be something added on to that, but right now we feel this is a good system.”

According to senior Morgan Graves, the new lockdown system indicates an unfortunate reality of wide-spread threats to schools.

“It’s kind of depressing that we have to have that kind of system implemented,” Graves said. “I understand that it probably makes more sense in a way that instead of a teacher having to get on the intercom system when it might not be safe.”

Bravo said at Park there are currently activation switches in the principles’ offices and the receptionists’ area.

“It’s a system where you can have a remote switch anywhere. So let’s say that you are a teacher on the third floor, and so forth, and you can activate the system so that we don’t have to wait for the principal or somebody to hit the blue light system if there’s an actual active shooter or intruder, or whatever the case may be. We’re not that far yet,” Bravo said. 

As part of the new system, an automated voice repeats a message until the lockdown is complete. Graves said the monotone voice that plays over the loudspeaker makes the drill seem more normal.

“It kind of feels almost like desensitizing, the whole thing is like, it’s just a fire drill or it’s just a shooting drill,” Graves said.

It’s kind of depressing that we have to have that kind of system implemented. I understand that it probably makes more sense in a way that instead of a teacher having to get on the intercom system when it might not be safe.

— Morgan Graves

Bravo said in the next few years security systems may change, but this system gives the district a good starting point. 

“We don’t have to go back and we spend our money, it came with that feature already so we were very fortunate that it was part of the package,” Bravo said. “We’re just trying to do what’s best to protect the district as much as we can.”

According to Graves, in her psychology class, they discussed the possible repercussions of the new system. 

“We had that drill in Mr. Goddard’s class and he turned it into a psychology lesson and was like, ‘I wonder how this would mentally impact someone in a negative way,’ like something as negative as a shooting, hearing this monotonous voice over and over and over again,” Graves said.

Bravo said the elementary schools were updated first, followed by the high school, with the middle school and central being next. 

“If you’ve seen what we’ve been doing, that’s where we focused a lot of the money in the beginning because it was easy to get those schools up and going. The bigger schools like the middle school, high school, central are bigger so that there’s more to it,” Bravo said. 

Graves said she is unsure if the new practice is worthwhile, as it may be an ineffective addition.

“The whole thing just feels odd,” Graves said. “To me it’s like bulletproof backpacks, is it actually a good thing or is that really just like overselling something negative?”

Bravo said the system is multi-use because the combination of lights and speakers can serve multiple purposes.

“If you’re coming from an event and you’re on a bus, and you’re driving up to the school and you don’t know if there is a lockdown or anything, but because the bus driver will see a blue light, and then the buses can leave and not be part of what’s going on at the schools,” Bravo said.