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The Daily Ardmoreite
  • 'If there's an intruder on campus, we don't want to be seen'

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  • In the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, school security was thrown into the forefront of conversations in schools and in the Legislature.
    In Oklahoma, schools are now required to have an intruder drill each semester, in addition to the lockdown, fire and tornado drills schools already have.
    With the addition of the intruder drill, the lockdown drill schools used to do has changed to reflect a more precise meaning.
    "They had them combined. Now it differentiates that there are two different things," says Larry Case, Dickson Upper Elementary principal. "For a lockdown, there is no reason to hide. We're on alert. If there's an intruder on campus, we don't want to be seen."
    Intruder drills are specifically for an intruder on school grounds.
    While exact procedure will vary by school, procedures for an intruder drill include locking interior and exterior doors, turning off lights and moving students out of sight.
    Many of these procedures schools were already familiar with because they were done during the previous lockdown drills.
    Lockdown, which had been the term used for any crisis event, now refers specifically to events off-campus that may affect the school. Prior to this school year, lockdown drills were very similar to what intruder drills are now.
    Examples of when a lockdown might occur include a bank robbery or a shooting in a nearby neighborhood.
    "If we have a credible threat, we do a lockdown," explains Cindy Huddleston, Ardmore Middle School principal.
    Procedures include locking exterior doors, pulling people inside and out of portable buildings and staying away from windows. Classes continue as normal, except for those provisions.
    Some schools like Ardmore Middle School have additional concerns because several walls are entirely glass.
    "We have kids use back hallways and don't eat in the cafeteria," Huddleston says.
    Having the two types of drills and practicing both will prepare staff and students should anything happen.
    "Practice makes perfect. If we don't practice, it will be chaos. No one will know where to go or what to do," says Sgt. Ruben Garcia, Ardmore Police Department and school resource officer based at Ardmore Middle School. "An important part of making schools safer is everyone knowing the shortest route and safest place to go in an emergency."
    Drills also now have a specific time window during which each one must be completed, and new forms are required to be sent to the Oklahoma Institute for School Security Resources about the intruder, lockdown and tornado drills.
    "It's more coordinated to make sure people are carrying it out," Case says.
    Administrators are confident the new plans will help them respond to emergency situations, whatever they may be.
    Page 2 of 2 - "We're going to do our very best to protect the kids of Ardmore Middle School, whether it's nature or mankind," Huddleston says.
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