Since 2013, there have been over 200 school shootings in the United States¹. As a result, lockdown drills are becoming more and more of a necessity in our school systems to prepare for such incidents. While lockdowns are commonly associated with school shootings, they are also used as a tool for all types of emergency scenarios. Pinpoint is a new company that was created to assist teachers and help ensure accountability for their students during lockdowns. As a teacher, I have experienced countless emergency drills and scenarios, and have come to realize that, prior to Pinpoint, there was much room for improvement.
The first experience I would like to share occured while teaching seventh grade in a public school. When a lockdown drill was initiated, I was trained to get students to a corner of my classroom, ensure all doors were locked, lights turned off, blinds closed, and that everyone remain silent. Next, it was my responsibility to put a piece of colored paper in my window. This paper, which faced the playground, was used to inform administrators and law enforcement of our current status. If the paper was green, this indicated we were safe, and if the paper was red, it indicated we were in need of assistance. There were many concerns that I had when it came to this lockdown procedure. My primary concern was the form of communication. Not only did this indicate to a possible intruder that we were present in the room, but also our status. Secondly, if we were in a weather lockdown, this would put the teacher at risk to be near a window, and most likely would not be seen by administrators or law enforcement from outside.
While teaching at a private school, the procedures there were much similar to my previous experience; however, there was no specific form of communication. During the transition from recess to math, a lockdown drill was initiated. Since the students were transitioning between classes, they were scattered throughout the building. Once the room became secure and I gathered the students, I realized that one of my homeroom students was not accounted for. As you can imagine, fear ran through me. Since it is lockdown protocol not to leave your classroom, I was unable to look for this student. I began to text the teachers in our building, but I did not have the numbers of all of the teachers. As a result, I began to send emails to all faculty members. In this scenario, I was fortunate to locate the missing student, but it led me to believe that there had to be a better way to communicate with the administration and faculty.
These two experiences, in two very different educational settings, made me wonder, is this a problem for all teachers? Are there any current practices to allow teachers to account for the students they have, identify their location, and then share that with administrators and law enforcement? Are there reliable means of communication between administration, faculty, and law enforcement? After reaching out to other teachers I know across the country, the answer was overwhelmingly, "No."
Pinpoint has been designed with the teacher, administrator, law enforcement, and most importantly, the safety of the students in mind. We allow teachers to check into their location and identify the names of the others that they are with during an emergency situation. Features within Pinpoint allow them to indicate if they are safe or in need of immediate assistance, and opens a line of communication between faculty, administrators, and law enforcement. It is the mission of Pinpoint to make your lockdown procedures more efficient and effective during an a time when, unfortunately, we are seeing the need for lockdowns more than ever.
¹ (www.everytownresearch.org. 2017.)