Local News

False alarm prompts school lockdown

A false alarm prompted a brief lockdown for the Petersburg High School and Middle School Friday (this) morning.

The lockdown alarm went off just before school started. It sounds different than the fire alarm and it’s aimed at warning of an imminent threat, like an armed intruder. Superintendent Rob Thomassen believed it was caused by a short in the system at the vocational education building.

While this alarm was unintentional, Thomassen saw it as a good drill and said he was impressed with the fast response from students and staff.

“All the kids were out of class and in the hallways. The lockdown alarm went off. Students and staff responded outstandingly. Everybody headed for a room. Doors were locked. It was orderly. It was quiet. I couldn’t be happier with the way that drill went. We’re going to classify it as a drill even though it was unplanned. Sometimes those are the best,” said Thomassen.

Students had already been taught how to respond to the alarm which is accompanied by a PA announcement as well as a check of the buildings by Principal Rick Dormer, Middle School Dean Jaime Cabral and Thomassen.

“We did a quick cursory check here at the lower level. [Rick Dormer] got on [the PA] saying, ‘This is a lockdown. Please lockdown.’ And then we break out into our teams. I check the upper level. Rick checks the lower level. Jaime checks another level and we’re looking for locked doors, lights off, shades down and then we gather again….then the police show up and they were here as quickly as they could possibly be. [It’s a] Credit to our police department and that’s how the drill goes.”

Police respond to false lockdown alarm at school

The alarm automatically notifies police and two cruisers were on the scene shortly but the incident lasted only five to ten minutes before administrators sounded the all clear. There was no lockdown at the elementary school which was not in session Friday because of conferences.

The district does lockdown drills two or three times a year. As far as the malfunction, Thomassen says that’s one of the reasons the schools are hoping to replace the old alarm system. The $350,000 project is one of several on the district’s priority list.

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