Columbia Middle School
Code Red FAQs
What is a Code Red?
A Code Red/Lockdown Alert is sounded if there is a suspected armed intruder or active shooter on campus or in the neighborhood. The Code Red response is a partnership with local law enforcement and was developed after the shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado. Code Red is defined as an alert status indicating imminent danger exists to all staff and students. During a Code Red, staff and students must remain within their classroom or within a secured area. If students are in the hallways, they must quickly move to the nearest classroom or to a secure area, remain quiet and follow staff instructions
When a school responds with emergency measures, its sole priority is to keep all students and staff safe. Oftentimes, in cases of potentially serious school safety threats, students and staff remain in the building under a lockdown, even after the school day has ended. While these measures are often frustrating for parents who want to remove their children from the school during a threat, all parents need to appreciate that the school has to protect itself from all potential incoming individuals-even if the incoming individuals are parents
Why were parents and others allowed to walk onto campus if there was a safety threat?
In the event that the threat is actually on campus, it is unlikely that anyone would have been allowed on campus, and law enforcement presence would have been significant. All available law enforcement were at the scene of the incident, and as things came under control, they began to arrive at CMS. Because the campus is locked down, no school personnel could leave the building to close or lock gates because this would endanger them.
Why wasn't I notified immediately of the Code Red?
We have a strict protocol to follow that is given to us by law enforcement. CMS has 900 students, and to call every student's parents would take significant amount of time-(for example, at 1 minute per call, with 5 people in the main office calling, 900 minutes/5 people is 180 minutes, or 3 hours per caller to reach all parents.) Also, we did not have any information to share with parents for some time---we only received a directive to call a Code Red. Once we began to get information, it was rapidly changing and we did not know how long students would be required to stay in classrooms.
Is there a system in place, or will one be put in place, to let the Parents/Guardians know that there is a Code Red and their children are safe?
Parents/Guardians will be notified once the Code Red incident is complete, the school is safe, and it is time to pick up students. This is the procedure established by the Code Red protocol.
The Code Red Protocol and law enforcement directs us to not allow student use of cell phones in order to keep the phone lines open. There is a strict protocol that we must follow which ensures the safety of all 900 students and 100 staff at CMS, and this has to be the main concern. To not follow the protocol might mean that someone on campus is endangered.
Is there a policy in place for parents who are picking up other children along with their own child or children?
Parents/Guardians are only allowed to pick up their own children. Students can only be released to a Parent/Guardian or an individual listed on the Emergency Card. In the event that a Code Red lasts beyond the school day, all students would be held at school or a staging area, with school personnel, until a Parent/Guardian/Emergency Contact could pick them up.
Is there a plan for dismissal of students after a Code Red, the dismissal on May 18 was very disorderly.
The plan that is included in the Code Red protocol calls for an evacuation to a staging area away from campus. It was determined that this was not necessary on May 18. Because each emergency scenario is so different, we are developing several plans for dismissing students when an evacuation is not necessary. With the development of these plans it will be much easier for parents to connect with their children on campus after dismissal.
Why were students released to Parents/Guardians one at a time on May 18?
Once it was determined that it was safe for students to leave campus, it was still within the school day, so we could not simply release all students. Further, we could only release students through the south side of campus. We decided to release students whose parents were present. Once law enforcement gave us the go-ahead to release all students, we did so.
Will there be any Code Red drills in the future?
How can you help?
Advise us if there are any recent changes to your child's emergency contact information and ALWAYS ensure that we have an up-to-date phone number where you can be reached. Please do not call the school during a Code Red emergency. We will need to keep the phone lines open for emergency communication since school officials will need to remain in contact with local, county, or state emergency officials.