This year, M-A changed its protocol for lockdown preparation. Instead of holding drills to practice for this emergency situation, administrators are now teaching students about campus safety in a classroom setting.

Administrative Vice Principal Nicholas Muys led the Zoom seminar for lockdown preparation earlier this year. He explained, “We are following the San Mateo County guidelines for the best practices for these drills.”

There have been a few real lockdowns in the past few years, with the latest one happening just last year. “The real reason why we’ve shifted away from having more realistic drills is that they can be very traumatizing for students,” commented Muys. Gun violence has been a relevant topic at M-A— in the past month, two guns were confiscated on school campus. Visit the stories here and here.

He said, “The format, which is more of a lesson, is ideally more trauma-informed in the sense that we’re just talking about some of the best practices and talking about the why and the wherefore of what we will do if we have a drill.” 

Muys continued, “That said, I think there are some drawbacks to having me just droning away on a Zoom. I think that what you miss out on is a bit of an opportunity to build muscle memory. If there is a lockdown, we need a lot of the preparation to be pretty automatic, right?”

Special Education teacher Julia Gittes said, “I think, too, as a teacher, to practice having to quickly get up, lock the door, pull the blinds down—it does build a bit of muscle memory. But I don’t know that those benefits outweigh upsetting students.” 

“I totally understand how it can be traumatic or triggering for people to do the drill. At the same time, I don’t know how much students are absorbing when they’re just listening to a Zoom. They might absorb information better if they’re actually seeing the lockdown happen. It’s a tricky one,” continued Gittes.

Senior Ece Eris said, “The main problem with the lockdown presentation is that people don’t really pay attention as much. We should actually practice barricading the doors so there’s less of a panic when there’s an actual lockdown.”

“I’m playing around with some ideas for the next lockdown drill, which we’re going to have in January. I’d like to build in some more elements of an actual response without maybe going all the way to having a full lockdown experience for kids,” said Muys. “I’m not thrilled about the format, but that’s what I did. We have to be ready, but not scare people unnecessarily.”

Lindsay Park is a sophomore and in her first year in journalism. She is interested in writing about psychology and current events. In her free time, Lindsay likes to hang out with friends, play oboe, and draw.

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