How did teachers respond to the emergency situation?
"Ms. Olsen, there's a fight!"
On Nov. 8 at around 10 a.m, yoga teacher Megan Olsen and her third period class were on the track when some of her students ran up to the fence and saw a fight between two Blair students in the Colesville-side parking lot. They immediately called their teacher for help and when she hurried over, she saw that the fight had ended and someone was bleeding.
She called for help from fellow P.E. teacher Emanuel Charles on the other side of the track while she rushed to stay with the injured student. She left her class under Charles's supervision, and he watched over both of their classes.
Despite the severity of the situation, Olsen did not feel scared during the incident. "When I was there, it was just me and the student. I never felt like there was a danger to me or [my students] . . . I was just concerned for the injured student," Olsen says.
Likewise, Charles stayed calm throughout the incident. "I'm pretty poised. I don't get too high or low . . . [so] I wasn't too shocked," he says. He knew that some of the students may feel uncomfortable with seeing the blood, so he made sure to keep everyone away from the scene. They first backed away to the tennis courts, entering the building soon after.
Fortunately, help swiftly arrived in only one or two minutes with security officers and the nurse arriving first.
While Olsen and Charles covered the incident from outside of the building, teachers inside the building attended to their students, who were just being informed about the situation. Teachers felt surprised when the voice crackled over the intercom, announcing that the school was entering into a lockdown, and not a drill.
Science teacher Elizabeth Levien was teaching in room 331 when the lockdown was first announced. Her room has no windows, so she and her students were unable to see what was going on outside. At first, she, and many other teachers, were unsure if the lockdown was just a drill. "Initially I was like, 'Did I miss the memo?' And I texted my teacher friends and we all immediately figured out this was not a drill," Levien says.
ESOL and English teacher Kallie Haas had similar thoughts at first. However, she decided to treat the lockdown seriously. "We don't typically have unannounced ones, and we hadn't talked about any of them coming up. So my mind immediately said, this is real and let's just treat it like it is," Haas says.
Although many teachers were confused when the lockdown was first enforced, they still followed lockdown protocols by promptly stopping their instruction, pulling down the blinds on their windows, turning off lights and instructing their students to stay quiet.
However, some teachers decided to continue teaching after the lockdown was announced, not treating the lockdown as seriously as other teachers. Sophomore Josie Gleason's third period teacher did not stop teaching. "He checked his email and he was like, 'It might be a drill, but I never got an email' . . . then he just kept going," she says.
This suggests that Blair needs to have more safety emergency drills to ensure that Blazers know the correct protocols if a real emergency comes.
Since the Blazers inside the school building were kept outside of the loop from administration, false rumors quickly spread around as students and teachers frantically texted friends. Some were more extreme, scaring teachers. For example, Levien heard a rumor that a student had died. "At one point, they said a student died. I panicked," she says.
A Twitter post circulated around while Blair was in lockdown, describing what actually had occurred: a Blair student had non-fatally stabbed another student. With emerging news articles and tweets, false rumors were gradually cleared.
Before the Twitter post was published, teachers and students were completely shrouded in confusion. That being the case, all teachers interviewed expressed gratitude that their students reacted well to the lockdown in spite of all the chaos and surprise. "Our students [on the track] handled it well . . . They knew it wasn't a shooter in the building and so they were a little bit less anxious," Charles says.
Likewise, during the innovation period dedicated to a discussion about the stabbing, many other students also reflected that they felt optimistic because the threat was not a school shooter. During the discussion, many students shared that they were feeling fine after the lockdown and that it did not disturb them.
While it is appreciable that students were so mature and relaxed during the lockdown, it is also unfortunate how students' threshold for panic is an active school shooter.
Similarly, Haas communicated her appreciation of her resource room's students' mature reactions to the lockdown. However, she expressed her mixed feelings about her students' calm reactions. "I hate that my students . . . have to know how to do this . . . It's very bittersweet to me to see how well people respond to it as [if] it's such a natural situation," she says.
Nevertheless, teachers took measures to ensure that students felt alright after the events of Nov. 8. Olsen practiced meditation with her students in the class following the stabbing to relax after the events of Nov. 8. The innovation period that Blair counselors dedicated to discussing any concerns after the stabbing was fairly helpful to Blazers as well; although, there were language barrier issues and lack of participation in some classes. "I teach English to second language students . . . It was very challenging for them to be able to navigate the topics and the questions because they're inhibited by their English proficiency," Haas says.
For the most part, teachers acted swiftly and properly during the lockdown. They are pleased that their students also acted maturely during the safety emergency. In spite of that, teachers equally feel troubled that students have become so accustomed to instances of school violence similar to the stabbing that they are able to stay remarkably unruffled throughout the event.
Sophia Zeng. Hi! I'm Sophia and I am the Internal Managing and Humans of Blair editor. I enjoy playing the piano, biking and listening to music. More »