An Open Letter To Missoula Parents After A School Lockdown
When the first text comes in and you are made aware your child's school is in a "lockdown" situation, the questions you have can't get answered fast enough. This is a situation that my parents never had to deal with when I was a kid. My parents were given a note that we were going to have a fire drill on a certain day of the week. They never had to feel the worry or anxiety that today's parents feel when they get that text that their child's school is literally locked down, and no one can go in or go out.
Recently, Missoula's Hellgate High School went into lockdown. Because of the nature of the situation, all Missoula County Public Schools went into a "soft perimeter lock-in", which means other schools were not letting children leave the grounds and were not letting people into the school, but classes continue. The texts started coming to my phone.
This isn't the first time in my children's school careers that I have gotten these kinds of texts. For me, I get a physical reaction to the texts. My stomach tightens, adrenaline starts flowing, and I have a sudden feeling of helplessness. My first response is to reach out to my kids.
When I finally get a reply from them and they assure me they are ok, a huge wave of relief and emotions wash over me. There are always more questions than answers, and they can't always explain what is happening and why they are in lockdown. It isn't until later that we find out the reasons for the lockdown. Thankfully, my children have never been harmed or have been put in harm's way at school.
These are situations that I would never wish on any parent, but they are the reality of having school-age children, even in Missoula, Montana. Whenever these things happen, I take extra time to talk to my children and listen to what they are going through. For them, it is never an easy experience. I remind them that I love them. I hug them, even though they are too old for that these days.
I want to extend my thanks and gratitude to all the principals, teachers, counselors, and school employees that have now entered a new way of teaching and trying to keep all of our children safe, above and beyond what their job descriptions initially entailed. I also want to thank all of the police, investigators, and first responders for helping to keep our kids safe.