Every month safety drills are practiced at all of the area schools. During these events, students have been heard asking the simple question “Why do we have to do this again?” and with all honesty there are probably some adults that have the same thought briefly run through their mind. After yesterday, I don’t think anyone will be wondering why they practice. At approximately 12:45 pm a hard lock down – not a drill – was announced over the speaker at Virgin Valley Elementary school and everyone instantly moved into action. Because of the practices that can seem mundane and unnecessary, the students and school were secure in no time. The Mesquite police department was instantly in contact with the school administration and updated them during the event. The lock down only lasted approximately 15 minutes and then the school returned to the regular schedule with some spontaneous debriefing in the classrooms.
Shortly before the lock down was announced, some teachers and staff had heard snippets about the tragedy in Texas which naturally broke their hearts and then heightened their fears when the hard lock down was announced. But even with Ulvade, Texas on their mind and hard lock down in process, the Virgin Valley Elementary School staff kept their cool. The staff had no idea what was really happening outside the barricaded doors of their classrooms but they were determined to keep students safe and calm.
When the hard lock down is called, teachers immediately go to the door and make sure it is locked. They briefly peek outside to see if there is a student in the hallway or close by that needs to get in a classroom. The windows are covered, lights turned off and students are gathered in a corner away from the window and doorway. Digital accounting takes place so the administration knows where every person in the building is. Administration is following their directives which include contact with the police department. Yesterday, it was evident the school staff was successful when one of the students in the preschool room told us “We were okay, our teachers were taking care of us.”
If you are connected to social media, you may have read well deserved posts and comments thanking school staff for their actions yesterday. If you missed the opportunity earlier this month during teacher appreciation week to thank your child’s teacher it is never too late. Everyone at Virgin Valley Elementary school deserves a big thank you along with the Mesquite Police department for making the children in our community a priority.
Our hearts go out to the families and the community of Ulvade, Texas. Dwight D. Eisenhower once said “There’s no tragedy in life like the death of a child.” May we hold to that thought and make every effort to ensure the safety of our future.