After a Two Lockdowns in One Month, Here's What to Know

January's second lockdown had successes — and failures.

After a Two Lockdowns in One Month, Here's What to Know
Police officers group outside of the Learning Lounge after the second lockdown in one month. Photography by Kaiden Chandler.

By Kaiden Chandler

Editor in Chief. Class of 2024

Speed Read: In 2.5 minutes, everything you need to know to be informed about the January lockdowns.

What to know: On Monday, January 29, MSMHS entered an unplanned full-school lockdown, the second this month. Armed police officers responded to the school, clearing the building before the lockdown was ended.

  • The lockdown lasted a total of 58 minutes, beginning at around 12:06 p.m. during block A3 and ending at 1:04 p.m., partway through block A4. After the lockdown ended and students exited classrooms, police remained stationed around the school for safety.

Here’s why: According to MSMHS principal Ms. Amatrudo, the lockdown was triggered by a “vague report” that was deemed untrue after being “investigated fully” through police interviews and review of video footage. 

  • She added that there are “certain kinds of information that come to us that we have to act on as though it's a real emergency even though the likelihood of it being a real emergency is very very low. We still have to take it as seriously as we can.”

Catch up quick: Early this January, MSMHS had another unplanned lockdown, which the administration believes may have been an accidental triggering of the one-touch emergency alert system in the school.

  • When asked if these recent lockdowns are part of a larger trend, Ms. Amatrudo noted some of the differences between the two lockdowns and added, “I don’t think there's something bad happening in the school or with the culture of the school.”

Timeline: During third block, a student reported hearing about a threat to the school and informed a teacher. This teacher then informed Ms. Amatrudo, who consulted with the Groton City Police youth officer to make the decision to enter a precautionary lockdown, despite the lack of immediate emergency.

  • After deciding to lock down, officers arrived within “a couple minutes” according to Ms. Amatrudo.

Broken procedures: MSMHS emergency procedures, which have been explained to students and teachers, say that students should remain in lockdown locations unless called to do so over the announcements. Even then, each student is required to wait for permission from the teacher in their classroom to leave, in case a statement is made under duress. 

  • Instead: In this lockdown, police officers knocked on at least one door and instructed students and teachers to exit the classroom, which the teacher ultimately decided against doing to remain safe. 
  • Yes, but: Ms. Amatrudo has noted that the school will always defer to police for emergency instruction. In this case, the police efforts to investigate the incident and determine the threat level may have taken precedence over typical procedures.
  • What’s next: Ms. Amatrudo talked “with the officers about the possibility of announcing to folks that there's not an active emergency” to be clearer for future emergencies, adding that there “shouldn't have been knocking on the door.”

What went well: Ms. Amatrudo emphasized the successful aspects of the lockdown, saying that “officers were very happy with how all the rooms were locked down” and that she felt it was a “successful completion of our emergency procedures.”

What didn’t go well: Ms. Amatrdo said that there was “student behavior in one area in particular that was absolutely abhorrent and could have jeopardized the safety of other people in that space,” which included students “interacting with the people” around them during the lockdown. 

  • No additional clarification was given on the specifics of this behavior, though Ms. Amatrudo said that she would “be investigating how those individuals are and responding to that seriously.”

Staying prepared: Ms. Amatrudo says that the state “requires that we have an evacuation drills ten times a year and that we have lockdown drills twice a year, with at least one of them being in coordination with emergency responders,” adding that actual scenarios — like the two recent lockdowns — are also helpful for “review work,” providing real-life demonstrations of the effectiveness of emergency procedures.

More on lockdowns

MSMHS Enters Unplanned Lockdown, Police Respond
After an activation of the one-touch emergency lockdown system, armed police officers responded to MSMHS.
The Current