While reports of a lockdown at William James Middle School may have alarmed some parents Thursday morning, the reason for the lockdown was merely a routine safety sweep.
During the routine sweep, Bulloch County Sheriff’s deputies searched the school for contraband, drugs or any other safety violations.
These safety sweeps, conducted by police or sheriff’s deputies (depending on jurisdiction), are not announced ahead of time, since to do so would defeat the purpose, said Hayley Greene, public relations and marketing specialist for Bulloch County Schools.
But many students have cell phones, and some will call parents during the lockdown, possibly fearing there is a danger, she said.
In today’s atmosphere, with school shootings and other incidents being reported in the news, students will sometimes fear the worst, she said. However, calling parents to come pick them up is futile because during lockdowns, students are not allowed to leave and parents are not allowed to enter the schools, she said.
Lockdowns also occur whenever law enforcement is searching for a suspect in the area of a school or any other possible danger makes it unsafe for students to leave, she said.
Parents of William James Middle School were notified Thursday, after the safety sweep, that the school had been locked down. School principal Julie Mizell reported there were no violations found, Greene said.
“The Bulloch County school system “works in conjunction with our public safety agency partners to provide help provide safe learning environments for children,” she said. “Law enforcement officers do conduct routine school safety searches of our schools. When these searches take place, they will be without notice, and the school will be placed in lock down.”
According to policy, “During …any school lock downs, no one will be allowed in or out of the school except law enforcement,” she said. “In the event of a lock down, utility outage, or any school emergency, all law enforcement agencies strongly advise parents and the public to remain out of the area.”
This information is included in the student handbook, she said,
“Please do not go to your child's school unless you have received direction from school administrators or district officials. Remain calm, keep lines of communication open and encourage your child to turn their cellular telephones off and focus on direction from school personnel.”
Parents are also asked not to call their child’s school during lockdowns,
Both parents and students are encouraged to review the school safety protocols provided in the Bulloch County Schools student handbook and on the Bulloch County Schools website (www.bulloch.k12.ga.us/
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414