Locking Down at Liberty

Many schools across the nation require participation in lockdown drills throughout their academic year. However, Liberty is not one of these schools.

Dark+Classroom+by+thom82+from+Creative+Commons.

“Dark Classroom” by thom82 from Creative Commons.

In 2017, Liberty received an anonymous threat through social media stating that someone was planning to ‘shoot up’ the school, according to The Gazette. The Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD) responded by canceling school the next day and the North Liberty Police Department (NLPD) took this minor into custody. Before this incident, no school in the ICCSD had participated in any lockdown drills. Even after, this remains the same. 

ICCSD schools don’t participate in lockdown drills of any sort. Though the district has never given their direct reasoning behind this decision, many staff and students in the district have their speculations.

Siddhartha Gopishetty, senior, thinks the ICCSD has decided against lockdown drills because of time constraints within the school day.

“I think [the ICCSD doesn’t] require [lockdown] drills because they don’t want to subtract from learning time,” said Gopishetty.

Aidan Decker, freshman, thinks that the district currently has larger issues at hand. 

“I feel like our district wants to focus more on other things that seem more important at the moment,” said Decker. 

Though it’s unfortunate that lockdown drills are being normalized, I think it necessary. It’s just one of those, ‘rather be safe than sorry’ scenarios.”

— Katie Tippet

While lockdown drills aren’t currently on the agenda for the district, students see how the addition of them could benefit both students and staff. 

Katie Tippet, junior, believes that lockdown drills could be a good preventative measure despite the anxieties that may surround them.

I think [the] ICCSD participating in lockdown drills would be really beneficial for the students and teachers. Though it’s unfortunate that lockdown drills are being normalized, I think it necessary. It’s just one of those, ‘rather be safe than sorry’ scenarios,” said Tippet.

Though the ICCSD does not require mandatory lockdown drills for students, they have offered optional drills for students in the past. Many students are unaware of these optional drills. These drills take place outside of the regular school hours and are a part of the ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) programs.

Tippet participated in one of these optional drills two years ago during her freshman year at Liberty. Though this experience was difficult for her, Tippet said it was a necessary one. 

“It was really informative. They brought in a couple [of] police officers who showed videos of how a proper lockdown should look at [a] school, workplace, and recreational center. They later did demonstrations and live-scenarios… I think knowing how these lockdown situations happen [has] made me even more aware of how serious it can be and how responding [in] the right way can make a huge difference,” explained Tippet.

Both Gopishetty and Decker said they’d participate in this sort of training whether it is optional or required.

“I have no idea what I would do if I were in that situation, so I would participate in any lockdown drills we might do in the future, even if it was optional,” said Decker.

While student participation in lockdown drills isn’t required, teacher participation is. Each year, teachers have to go through ALICE training to ensure that they would follow the proper procedures in a lockdown situation.

Decker trusts that this training for the teachers is enough to keep us safe in case of an emergency.

“I feel safe at Liberty, and I trust that all of our teachers would be able to keep us safe during a lockdown,” said Decker.

While Tippet also trusts the teacher training, the addition of student participation would make her feel even safer.

“I don’t think any of the teachers at Liberty take lockdowns lightly, so if I were put in that situation I know the teachers would act with the students’ best interest in mind… I think the procedure would be even better if they extended the practice to students so that we know how to respond appropriately as well,” said Tippet.

While Liberty has never experienced a true lockdown emergency, Decker thinks it is better to be safe than sorry.

“It is better to practice those drills now than to have to make changes in the future after a situation we were unprepared for,” said Decker.