WDAY: The News Leader

Published February 04, 2013, 05:50 PM

Intruder lockdown drill at Carl Ben Eielson seemed too real for some students

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- Those school drills are causing anxiety in several students, even weeks after it happened.

By: Kay Cooley, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- Those school drills are causing anxiety in several students, even weeks after it happened.

Several complaints have come in about an intruder lockdown drill at Carl Ben Eielson Middle School where students and staff were not warned of the drill beforehand. An intruder break-in is something school officials district wide prepare for all year long.

Seim: "When we do a drill, we want it to be as life like as possible."

Even if it means not telling teachers or kids about them before they happen. That's what played out on January 18th at Carl Ben Eielson Middle School during an intruder lockdown drill.

Schatz: "The purpose of conducting drills is to make sure we're prepared in the event that something might happen."

Seim: "So we're going to try to accomplish something as real as we can without creating panic or fear."

The problem at Carl Ben, panic spread to students, when some believed the intruder scenario was real. Just a month after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown that killed 26 people.

Seim: "When you hear of innocent first graders, kindergarteners, getting killed by some madman, all of those things create an environment of paralyzation and fear."

Although most students and staff did not know of the drill beforehand, Fargo School officials say that's nothing new across the district.

Schatz: "This is something that the school district has done for years. You'll find that many other districts are running drills just like this."

Each school conducts 9 drills every year. Principals can decide when and if to tell other people in advance.

Schatz: "The purpose of not having the awareness that the drill is going to occur is so that people take them seriously."

But they say the main thing after the drill ends, is to make sure you debrief with children who might be stressed to alleviate anxiety during a real-life event.

Seim: "The bottom line is what if it was real? Would you want your son or daughter prepared"

The principal and counselors from Carl Ben Eielson were not available for comment. For parents who are concerned, the issue will be addressed at the PTA meeting next month.