ST. CLAIR COUNTY -- St. Clair County Schools conducted systemwide safety training Friday, Aug. 9.

This training included all 1,000 school teachers, staff, principals, administrators, coordinators, instructors and personnel from the Central Office.

The training included a countywide procedure where all 19 schools and the Central Office were placed on lockdown. This lockdown also included local police departments and the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office.

Schools Superintendent Mike Howard said he thought the safety procedure could not have gone any better.

“We do have some issues we have to work on,” Howard said. “I told the staff ahead of time that if a real crisis happened, and we had never done this before, we do not want any hiccups that happened today to happen in a real situation. Overall, the drill was a success. It only took us six minutes to lockdown the entire school system.”

Howard said this is the first time he has heard of a systemwide lockdown being attempted.

“We are required to do two lockdowns a year at each individual school,” he said. “But we’ve never done anything like this … where everybody had to lockdown at the same time.

“I’m happy with our tech team, our safety team, our principals and staff in how they handled the entire communication component. We have to do some things better, but everybody did exactly what they were assigned to do. I couldn’t be happier.”

At Ashville High School, Assistant Principal Ray Crump was meeting with faculty and staff in the library going over different possible scenarios they could face at the school. 

Crump asked what if a disgruntled teacher who was pink slipped came back on campus with an assault rifle. He also asked what if a former student came into the school building looking to shoot anyone in his path.

As Crump was going over different scenarios and answering questions, everyone’s phone went off at the same time. It was lockdown time.

Teachers went to their rooms and locked the doors as Crump, AHS Principal Janet Johnson and two police officers roamed the hallways making sure all doors were locked and searching for any suspicious activity. About 20 minutes later, the all-clear was given by Howard.

“This exercise was so important,” Johnson said. “It’s imperative that our teachers and staff be ready for some type of catastrophic event like this. We definitely don’t want to be a part of that; we just hope nothing like this ever happens on any of our campuses here in St. Clair County or statewide. But you have to be prepared because you just never know.”

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