Yesterday I had such a huge scare. T is normally home from preschool at 10:55. I watched for his bus at the window, but he wasn't showing up. At 11:15 I called the elementary office to see if they knew what was going on. No answer. That is odd, because the phone is always answered. I called again. No answer. Now I'm really starting to worry. Why would my child not be home on time and there is no answer at the school? I tried not to panic. I decided to try to bus garage. Finally someone answered!
Me: Is there a delay in getting the buses out today?
Her: Yes, the school is in lockdown.
Me: What? What is that? Why?
Her: Lockdown means no one in, no one out. I can't tell you the details of why.
Me: My child is in there! Is he okay? Why wasn't I called to let me know he wasn't coming home?!
Her: That is a lot of phone calls to make. We don't want to start a panic. I can't give you anymore details.
So I hung up and guess what ... I was panicking. Why? Well let's see. My son wasn't home. It was now well over 30 minutes from the time he should have been home. I had stood there waiting for him. I had called to get a hold of the school. There was no answer. When I did get an answer I'm told he is in a lockdown situation and she can't tell me if he is okay or not?!?!
I worried so much. I called my mom and asked for some prayers that we'd know what was going on with my son soon. I was very very upset.
At 11:45, (an hour from when T is dismissed from school), I called the elem office again. This time a woman answered. "Hello?" (Not how they normally answer.)
Me: Is this the Elementary office?
Me: "Is my child going to be coming home now?"
Her: "Is he pre-k? What is his name?"
I told her.
Her: "Um ... well there has been an unforeseen emergency and we can't send him or any other students home for a while. I wasn't even suppose to answer this phone but I thought it was the principal calling me back."
Me: "Is my son okay?"
Her: "I believe he is fine. I really have to go now."
At least this woman "believes" he is fine. Then I start thinking about what she said. She wasn't "suppose to answer the phone". Why? They had my child there. I had received NO phone call from them that he wouldn't be coming home from school. No contact with them whatsoever. When I called them, they don't answer, and when they do they tell me they weren't suppose to answer the phone? This is totally not right. Am I suppose to just sit at home and be fine with the fact that my 4 year old didn't come home from school?!? And when I try to contact the school they don't answer the phone?!?! Um, no. This is not acceptable.
At 12:00 I received an automated phone call from the school.
"I'm calling to notify all parents of CLCS students that we are in a precautionary lockdown. No one can come into or out of the building. Please note the students are safe. To address this serious matter, we must keep the school in lockdown. Keep your phone lines open so that we can give you updates on this situation."
So finally, over an hour after my son should have been home, the school contacts me to let me know he wasn't coming home and that he was safe.
Now that I knew he was safe, I became REALLY mad. They wait an HOUR after my son should be home to tell me he wasn't coming? An HOUR?!?!
T came home 2 hours after his normal dismissal time. He is safe and he was totally oblivious to what had happened. That is good.
Let me say, I totally understand the need for a lockdown. In this case, it was because of a bomb threat. I'm not upset about the lockdown. Not at all. What I'm 100% upset about is that they waited so long to tell me that my son wouldn't be coming home.
Later that night I got an automated call from the school telling me to check the website out. They had a written statement on the site. I'm just c&p'ing the one part that really struck me.
"While we understand that parents of morning pre-kindergarten students would have appreciated an earlier phone call, our attention was focused on other critical safety issues at the time their children would normally have been boarding buses to ride home."
They had called all of the afternoon pre-k parents to let them know not to send their child to school. Are you telling me that they couldn't have spared 1 person to call the less than 40 morning pre-k students and tell them "I'm sorry, there has been an issue at the school and we cannot let anyone in or out at this time. Your child will be late in coming home. I cannot give out any more details, but know your child is safe and we will contact you again soon." Or hey... use the global connect automated system that they use all the time to tell me stupid things like there is going to be a football game. Or HEY, if that won't work for you, how about you give a call to one of the room mothers that have all of our phone numbers. One phone call to the preschool room mother and she could have called all of us preschool parents and let us know our children would be late in coming home.
I feel like their statement was a slap on my wrist for being upset that my child didn't come home and I didn't know where he was and couldn't get a hold of the school (that I entrust with his care) and became worried. I'm not suppose to worry because my son doesn't come home from school?
I'm very upset with the school for this gross miscalculation in communication. Obviously, some sort of protocol needs to be put into place on how to handle contacting the parents of the students that only attend half days (preschool) if a situation like this should occur again.
I will be sending a letter to the administration, board of ed, etc.