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After two potential threats to Lake Oswego High School in December and January, the district held a presentation explaining its response protocols during an emergency.

On Thursday, Feb. 17, Lake Oswego School District Safety and Security Administrator John Parke hosted a facilitated discussion for families that explained in detail why the district chooses specific responses to a threat in schools.

The district uses a Standard Response Protocol designed by the I Love U Guys Foundation. The national protocol provides consistent, shared language and actions among all students, staff and first responders that can be understood during an emergency.

The guideline is also based on the following actions: hold, secure, lockdown, evacuate and shelter. During a potential emergency when a school's safety is questioned, the district initiates one of the responses based on the threat level. The language used is consistent so it can be understood during an emergency.

Parke was joined by school resource officers Byran Sheldon and James Euscher, as well as Peren Tiemann, a senior at Lakeridge and member of Student Demand Action. During his presentation, Parke outlined the different responses and explained why the district would select one action over another.

"Hold" status is called when hallways need to be kept clear and students and staff must remain in their classrooms until an "all clear" status is announced — even if the bell for class change rings. This may be used during a medical emergency, a hazmat spill in the corridor or an incident when a specific section of the school needs to be cleared of foot traffic.

"Secure" means "Get inside. Lock outside doors" and is the protocol used to safeguard people within the building. Although the exterior doors are locked, students and staff continue their normal schedules. This status is commonly used when there is a threat outside of the building such as criminal activity or a dangerous animal near the campus.

Both hold and secure statuses were used by the school district recently after two separate incidents at Lake Oswego High School in December and January. Parke said these statuses are common to use during lower-risk situations.

However, lockdown is used during an event that needs immediate attention by law enforcement and commonly means a threat is currently inside a school. This status is followed by "Locks, Lights, Out of Sight" and the protocol is used to secure individual classrooms and keep students and staff quiet.

"The lockdown is definitely the most intense, and the most dangerous situation going on. It's when there's something inside the building that's a direct threat to the students," Parke said.

"Evacuate" status means that law enforcement will help escort students and staff away from the building.

"Students should not be surprised if the officers are loud and demanding (during an evacuation). The officers don't know the extent of the incident yet. They will give direct instructions that all students should follow. Students should be sure to keep their hands visible," Parke said.

Finally, taking "shelter" is used in the event of a natural disaster or accident where people must find cover in a safe location indoors.

After his presentation, Parke invited community members to ask questions.

One participant asked what families can do to make these types of situations easier. Parke said that families should not drive to the school once they hear a school is handling a potential threat, as it can create unnecessary traffic that first responders must maneuver through. Parents should also avoid calling their students, as it can clog phone lines or create unnecessary distractions.

Park said families should wait for the district's communications director, Mary Kay Larson, to update the community on what is happening.

Another community member asked what the school district and community can do to address all the fake threats.

"We are not immune to the same type of things that happened at schools across this country. The school district and the police department anticipate that these things will continue to happen, although they have become less consistent, which is a good thing. It really is more about communication — not just to the students, but between students and parents and the staff members," Sheldon said. "The longer that we continue to have these discussions … even though it's a difficult conversation, it accomplishes a lot of goals, so that some of these fake events begin to diminish like they have been."

A recording of the webinar is available in the district's weekly newsletter, The Current.

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