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Page School Superintendent Explains Lock Down Procedure

Page School Superintendent  Explains Lock Down  Procedure
October 31
08:29 2019

Below is a letter that parents and guardians of Page school children received from Superintendent Rob Varner this week. The letter is Mr. Varner’s response to how some parents called the city’s police department during a recent emergency in town that led to a brief lock down

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Mr. Rob Varner

October 30, 2019

Re: Page Unified School District Lock Down Process

Dear Parents/Guardians:

I would like to start this letter off by saying “thank you” for your patience and understanding during last week’s lock down which was called by law enforcement.

We understand that it can be scary when the school goes on lock down and you do not know why.  When these situations occur, as we saw last week, several different rumors were circulating regarding the reasons for the lock down and most were inaccurate.  This caused panic for a lot of parents and, as a result, the Page Police Department’s dispatch center was overloaded to say the least.

As a parent of students who attend school in this district, I understand the fear that parents can feel in these situations, especially when our children are texting us and telling us different things.  While we understand that we cannot keep your children from texting you during these times, we would ask that you take into consideration that the information you are being provided may not be accurate and that you have patience with both the school district and law enforcement.  When the school district is placed on a lock down by law enforcement, we are rarely informed of all of the details, only that there is a threat in close proximity.   We have to trust that the action is being taken for the safety of our staff and students.  We are asking that you do the same.  If and when details are provided, we will follow up with a letter to parents advising of the situation.

I would like to explain to you the process for a lock down in our district in hopes that it will give you a better understanding of the requirements for our staff and students in these situations.  If law enforcement feels that a threat is on or near a particular campus, the Page High School campus for example, the entire block is placed in a “hard” lock down. This includes Page High School, Desert View, the Preschool, and Manson Mesa High School.  During a “hard” lock down, all staff and students are required to immediately take cover in a safe location.  This means that there is no one in the office to answer phone calls nor is there anyone who can let you into a building to check on your child.  In the referenced situation, Page Middle School and Lake View Primary would be required to enter into a “soft” lock down.  This means that they are required to lock all doors to their building, but are permitted to continue working until they are notified that the lock down has been lifted.  If the threat were to be near Lake View Primary or Page Middle School, the location in danger would be placed in a “hard” lock down and the remainder of the campuses would be placed on a “soft” lock down.

Throughout the school year, the school district is required by the State to have three lock down drills at each school to prepare staff and students for these situations. Conducting these drills are not an option.  We do our best to try to minimize impact to the district, but also have to realize that if and when the situation is real, this is not taken into consideration.

It is important to remember, as stated above, that when a school is in a hard lock down, there is no one in the office to answer the phones nor is there anyone available to let you into the school to check on your child.  

The Page Police Department advised that during last week’s incident when it placed the school on lockdown, its dispatch switchboard was overwhelmed with calls from parents wanting to know the status and reason for the lockdown.  There were other law enforcement related matters in the community during this same time and the overload of the dispatch center made it very difficult for the dispatch operators to address not only the ongoing situation, but other emergency situations as well.

Many of our staff have children who attend school in the district and, as I mentioned previously, we do not always know the reasons behind why we are being placed in a lock down, only that law enforcement feels a need to call for such action. Making the decision to place a school in lock down is not one that the Page Police Department takes lightly, and I would like to ask that in situations such as this in the future, that you please do not call the Page Police Department to seek information.

We are working with the Page Police Department to find solutions to make future lock downs smoother and your cooperation in this regard will assist tremendously.  I would encourage you to talk to your child’s administrator if you have further questions or concerns about the district’s process.

 

Sincerely,

Rob Varner

Superintendent

RV:lh

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