Providence has done so many things to secure student safety during this outbreak. Thursday October 22, was no exception. A school-wide precautionary lockdown occurred when a student found an unused shotgun shell in the middle school. The student immediately alerted a teacher who contacted Middle School Director Mr. Kyle Rickbeil.
“The upper school directors and lower school directors were both notified immediately, which would have been about 11:00 AM,” he states. Shortly thereafter, Upper School Director Mrs. Kelly Harrington informed Headmaster Dr. Todd Flanders so the school directors could assess the situation and take action. In circumstances like these, Mrs. Harrington immediately thinks, “We need to do something right away,” and, “How do we make sure everyone is safe?”
The first steps were that of any lockdown. Mrs. Susan Fobbe, fourth grade teacher, recollects, “I made sure the door was locked, shut the shades, and continued teaching.”
Not only was the staff concerned, the students were as well. Julia Jacobson (‘21) recalls,”I was a little nervous because we haven’t had a lockdown that wasn’t a drill in a while and we didn’t know anything about what was going on. We were a little bit more on edge because we knew it wasn’t a drill.”
K-8 Counselor Mrs. Emily Semsch remembers, “After we got the all-clear, I did a walkthrough of our Middle School classrooms. I wanted to check in with teachers if they had any students who were upset or concerned, and be able to provide comfort to any student who felt stressed. Luckily, I saw and heard that everyone handled it beautifully.”
The lockdown lasted 30 minutes. It altered the schedule for middle schoolers, who had to eat lunch during light blue period in their classrooms. In addition, at 11:35 just ten minutes after the lockdown, the school sent an email to parents assuring them, saying, “The safety and security of your children is our first priority.” It went on to say, “At no time during this incident were any students in danger, and we immediately implemented our procedures to ensure security and enable swift resolution.”
The staff are trained so they know exactly what to do in emergencies. Every year, the teachers go through the safety folder to be prepared for anything that might happen.
Mrs. Semsch says, ”I think crisis preparedness is always difficult. I am grateful that we have a team of people at PA – the Administration, Student Support Services, our PA Security, local police and first responders, teachers and staff- all prepared to handle the unexpected and to help students if something unusual happens.”