What is a School Lockdown Drill?

What you can expect your child to see during a school lockdown drill

what is a school lockdown drill
Lockdown drills in schools are an unfortunate but necessary part of school safety today. Getty Images


The purpose of a school lockdown drill is to protect and keep as safe as possible the children and adults in the building from a potential emergency such as the presence of a school shooter. These drills are usually designed and implemented with input and assistance from local law enforcement officials. Ideally, these drills should be conducted several times a year at different times of the day and without pre-announcement (during lunchtime or recess, during classes, or during drop-off or dismissal, for example), to give students and staff the opportunity to practice what to do in different scenarios.

Lockdown drills are different from evacuation drills. Evacuation drills are designed to prepare students, teachers, administrators, and other people in the school to leave the building quickly and in a pre-planned and organized fashion in the event of danger such as a bomb threat, when conditions outside the building are safer than the conditions inside the building. In a lockdown drill, students are to clear the halls and report to the nearest available classroom where they are to hide and stay as silent as possible.

School lockdown drills also usually include the following procedures:

  • Doors to classrooms are closed and locked.
  • Students are moved to the safest part of the room, away from windows and doors, to the interior walls.
  • Everyone drops to the floor or out out of the line of vision from the door.
  • Window shades are pulled down.
  • Any windows in doors are covered (to prevent an intruder from seeing into the room).
  • Classroom lights are turned off.

You can find more information about your school’s safety procedures and drills on your state’s Department of Education website.

For information on what you can expect from a school lockdown drill and how you can prepare your child for one, read, "What Parents Need to Know About School Lockdown Drills."

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