September 13, 2008
With the school year just two weeks old, some are asking exactly what prompts a lockdown and if they’re becoming more frequent in the Toronto area.
The killing of 18-year-old Stephen Barton on Eglinton Avenue West near Keele Street on Monday forced the lockdown of five nearby schools and a daycare.
An incident in Oakville on Tuesday led to a similar precautionary lockdown of six more schools.
Colin Fleming with the Toronto District School Board says there are varying degrees of lockdown.
“It is unfortunate that the occurrence of these emergencies seems to be increasing at a mind-boggling rate,” said Fleming.
Fleming said lockdowns are initiated by principals, though often recommended by the police. The point, he said, is to keep any threat away from schools and protect children from outside danger.
Schools must go through two lockdown drills a year, Fleming said, though he admits the increased security may be having an effect.
“I don’t think any of us could suggest that it is not impacting on students in an emotional way,” he said.
But it’s not just students that worry.
Keishan Patel, 10, was one of those students caught in Monday’s lockdown.
His grandfather was anxious when he heard about the lockdown, but feels keeping children in school under such circumstances is necessary.
“Keep them inside, the kids, because who knows something [might] happen,” said Nan Patel.
But Tabitha Jeffreys disagrees. She kept calling her seven-year-old daughter’s school to find out when the doors would be unlocked.
“They’re safer at home than at school. [It] wasn’t right to be locked at school. [A] lot of children get upset about that,” she said.
The Toronto board said it doesn’t keep figures on how many lockdowns there are in each year.
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