Letter to the Editor
Dec. 16, 2012
To the editor:
It is an understatement to say the Fairbanks school district needs to review security in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy. A serious review needs to address both in-school and after-school security procedures.
On Nov. 5, the News-Miner reported that Woodriver Elementary claims to have gone into a precautionary lockdown because of reports of a man with a gun in the area. If this was their idea of a finely orchestrated lockdown, our community is at serious risk.
Many children attend after-school activities well into the evening. On this evening, I entered the Woodriver parking lot while an Alaska State Trooper was leaving. I didn’t think too much about this until I dropped my son off, along with many other unknowing parents, and learned the school was in lockdown. The lockdown was because of reports of a man armed with a gun near the school’s hockey rinks; however that trooper did not attempt to stop me from entering the school grounds and putting my child in potential danger. Car after car pulled into the school, dropping children off at the gym door, next to those hockey rinks, completely unaware that their children would be locked inside.
I’m primarily concerned about the lack of urgency and protocol with an emergency event — precautionary or not. There were no warnings, blockades or even notifications that the lockdown was over. I receive text messages with late bus notices and calls when school is canceled; why can’t this technology be used to precaution parents for both in-school and after-school activities when an emergency like this occurs? Why was I even allowed to enter school grounds when there was a lockdown? No parent will place blame on the school district or law enforcement for texting and calling about an emergency event that turns out being a false alarm.
The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District needs to review its procedures and processes and get them out to the parents. Right now, I don’t have a lot of confidence that our schools and law enforcement are prepared to handle an emergency situation.