Lockdown: An unexpected no-school day


This morning, I was backing out of my driveway, driving the kids to school, when I felt a buzz in my pocket. My phone had just received a text message, but I was driving so I ignored it. A few minutes later, we were almost at school and I felt my phone buzz again. This time I glanced at the screen. A friend of mine was sharing a news report that explained why our kids’ school was on lockdown.

I gave a brief explanation to my kids, F.T., who is in third grade, and G.N., in kindergarten. We drove to my office, just a few blocks from school. I told them what I knew about why school was closed. F.T. was worried about bad guys near his school, but I explained that the police were there and they would make the school safe again. I called my dentist’s office to reschedule my appointment.

The kids played with toys while I read news online and logged in to Facebook to see what other parents were sharing. Apparently, the event that triggered the lockdown was a domestic dispute at a nearby apartment. Some students had already been dropped off at school when the lockdown began; I heard that those students were safely moved to the other campus (the one for upper grades) to wait for their parents to come pick them up.

We stepped out of the office and saw a helicopter hovering in the sky. F.T. covered his ears from the noise. We walked to my car and drove to a nearby playground. We burned off some energy on the playground for a while, startling geese off a wall. Then, we sat at a picnic table and did spelling homework.

I kept checking my messages, email, Facebook, and Twitter for updates. Several families posted that when they got the lockdown message, they turned around for home and picked up tacos along the way. A perfectly rational response, but I didn’t feel like going back home, which is why I put out the call to go to the playground and then The DoSeum. A friend of mine commented, “You’re so positive, Inga!” but I didn’t feel like I was trying to be brave. The danger was localized to a small area (which happened to be near the school, triggering the lockdown) and that did not mean we needed to stay home all day.

At about 10:00 a.m., we got another text message alert that school was cancelled for the day. G.N.’s friend and her dad met us at the DoSeum because they had seen our post in the Facebook group for kindergarten parents. We ate lunch at the DoSeum cafe and let the kids lead us all over the museum. We recognized classmates and other uniform-wearing students who had also gone to the DoSeum on an unexpected school holiday. At about 2:00 p.m., the school sent out a campus-wide email to explain the lockout.

Now that we are home and resting, I still feel a little off. Part of it is probably simply the stress of having to change plans at the last minute. But also I have a lingering feeling that something is wrong. I feel uneasy. Something is wrong with our culture: “a problem with broken human connection,” as I quoted in a book review this summer.

My plan is to slow down a bit today and get a good rest tonight; hopefully, things will look better in the morning. Tomorrow, I want to take my kids to school for a normal day of learning and playing with their friends.

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