Oak Bluffs School practices lock down drill Friday

Oak Bluffs School. — File photo by Lynn Christoffers

The Oak Bluffs School plans to conduct a “critical incident drill” on Friday, October 14, in conjunction with the Oak Bluffs Police Department.

The drill involves a simulated “lockdown” in which all classrooms and offices are secured, and is intended to prepare staff and students for an emergency in the building.

“As far as lockdown drills go, all of the schools try to do one each year in addition to the monthly fire drills,” superintendent of Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools James Weiss wrote in an email Monday in response to questions emailed from The Times. “The individual school principals work closely with the public safety officials in the local town (police and fire) to plan and organize these events. I believe that all the schools did one last year, possibly with the exception of Chilmark.”

Oak Bluffs School Principal Richie Smith informed parents of the upcoming drill in the school’s online newsletter, the Carousel, on Friday last week. Mr. Smith said school administrators and the Oak Bluffs Police Department have trained faculty and staff members in lockdown measures.

Prior to the drill, students will receive instructions and training from their teachers during extended homeroom periods, according to Mr. Smith’s letter. A simulated lockdown will be conducted once administrators are confident that students and staff understand their roles and how to respond in the event of a real emergency, he said.

“As a school, we need to ensure that our children are secure and accounted for,” Mr. Smith wrote in an email in response to questions emailed from The Times. “This is the primary reason for the drill.”

Teachers discuss the serious nature of the drill with their homeroom classes, while being sensitive to the students’ reactions, he added, and it is conducted in a low-key manner.

As the new principal at Oak Bluffs School this year, Mr. Smith encouraged parents to attend an open forum on Wednesday morning to learn more about the drill, ask questions, and voice concerns, or to call him at 508-693-0951.

Critical incident drills are not new to Mr. Smith, however, who participated in ones held in years past at Tisbury School, where he formerly served as principal.

“Basically, there are two responses for our students in an emergency situation, evacuating or staying put,” Mr. Smith wrote to The Times. “We have always conducted evacuation drills such as fire drills. It makes great sense to conduct the Critical Incident Drills (lockdown, staying in place) as well. While this is not new, I felt it was best to inform our community so they might have a heads-up and have time to have their questions or concerns addressed.”