LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Parents at Desert Oasis High School received an email on the morning of Aug. 27, informing them that the school was placed on a soft lockdown for approximately 20 minutes due to police activity in the area. The email from Principal Jennifer Boeddeker said in part, "As part of the soft lockdown, students remained in their classrooms and continued with their regular learning activities."
A day earlier, Clark County School District Police placed Clifford O. Findlay Middle School on a hard lockdown due to what Lt. Bryan Zink called "several fights on campus."
According to Lt. Zink, these instances were two of 32 soft lockdowns and 9 hard lockdowns at CCSD schools since the school year started on Aug. 9.
A notification of a lockdown may leave parents with questions about safety of students and what is being done to keep situations under control without disrupting classes.
CCSDPD said soft lockdowns occur when there is a possible threat outside of the school.
"We routinely get calls about a strange person walking down the street, maybe carrying something," Lt. Zink said. All exterior doors are locked, no one can enter or exit the building and business inside the building continues. A soft lockdown is normally used when there is some type of police activity in the area and officers don’t want anyone to get into the school.
A hard lockdown is when there is a threat inside the school, according to Lt. Zink. All doors are locked, lights get turned off, kids lay on the floor and no one leaves the classroom until the all clear is given. Lt. Zink said this typically happens when there is a possible threat to the school itself, active shooter, or maybe a large fight in the quad where the safety of other students is a concern.
"The problem is that when a fight occurs, a lot of kids like to surge the area with their cell phones so they can videotape it, which we totally discourage, and it's to keep the kids in the classroom, and to keep the school at peace, and keep things calm so education can continue on," Lt. Zink said.
On Sept. 1, some schools had to shelter in place after a fuel spill shut down US 95. A shelter in place is when something either natural or manmade happens and it’s not safe to evacuate the school. Other examples can be a fire nearby, or a swarm of killer bees. Everyone is brought inside classrooms, the doors are covered with plastic and taped shut and kids stay inside until an all clear is given.
To compare this year's number of lockdowns, school year 2018-2019 saw ten hard lockdowns in the first month. Lt. Zink said there were significantly fewer soft lockdowns during the first month of that year compared to this year.
"This year we have enacted more soft lockdowns but again that's because of things going on potentially outside of schools," Lt. Zink said.