Schools ready for lockdown

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An Armed Offenders Squad call-out forced several local schools into “lockdown” last Thursday, but it didn’t stop some parents trying to reach their children during the incident.

Police were responding to threats of a gun being pulled in Bishopdale so told various nearby schools to go into lockdown, including Nelson College, Nelson Intermediate, Hampden Street and Victory Schools, as well as several kindergartens in the area.

All of the schools spoken to by Nelson Weekly say they have lockdown procedures in place and that they were enacted smoothly.

Nelson College headmaster Gary O’Shea says it only took eight minutes for the entire school to go into complete lockdown. The school then sent an email to parents to let them know what was happening and that the threat wasn’t directed at the school.

He says they had parents call the school seeking more information and some who even turned up to get their kids. But he says the lockdown went smoothly and he was happy with how students and staff reacted.

“We had everything in place within eight minutes – we have a good system and people took it seriously. We were very happy with the outcome,” he says.

Gary says schools are in charge of writing their own lockdown policies alongside Ministry of Education guidelines, and that schools are allowed to call a lockdown themselves at any time.

He says social media and news websites [like Facebook and nelsonlive.co.nz] have helped because parents were able to keep up-to-date as the event unfolded.

Nelson Intermediate principal Hugh Gully says his school has had a lockdown procedure since 2010 and this was the second time it’s been enforced. He says news websites are good for adults but can have the opposite effect for students.

“We will make it part of our lockdown plan to turn off all computers in future because kids are pretty onto it these days and it could be quite frightening if they knew that firearms were involved.”

Nelson South Kindergarten was also placed on lockdown, and head teacher Kylie Johnston says that it all went well.

“We got the call from the police and there were only six children outside, so we just called them in and shut the doors – we didn’t make a big deal about it,” she says.