Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Practice lockdowns now mandatory

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TAKE the practice lockdown seriously, kids -- next time, it could be real.

The province has directed schools to hold at least one practice lockdown each semester.

The mandatory drills became an official regulation Oct. 15 without fanfare, but were announced Monday as part of Anti-Bullying Week.

"While some individual schools or divisions may have practised lockdowns in the past, it certainly was not common practice across all schools in all school divisions. Hence the regulation, which was introduced last month," said Manitoba School Boards Association executive director Carolyn Duhamel. "This new provision is one which Safe Schools Manitoba and the MSBA discussed with law enforcement and Manitoba Education officials earlier this year in the wake of the December 2012 tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, and both organizations are fully supportive of this new requirement."

Schools must already perform 10 mandatory fire drills each year.

"Nothing is more important than the safety of our children and practice drills educate everyone in the school so they know what to do if an incident does occur," said Education Minister James Allum.

Manitoba Teachers' Society president Paul Olson said a code word on the public-address system alerts teachers to go into lockdown.

In a lockdown, students remain in a locked classroom as far from the door as possible. Students outside the school go to a designated area.

Provincial officials said the new regulation does not address one controversial aspect of lockdowns -- that teachers must expose themselves to possible danger to go out into the hallway to lock the door from the outside and pull it closed.

Classroom doors don't lock from the inside; that would allow students to lock themselves in if the teacher were out of the room.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 19, 2013 A5

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