Monday morning lockdown
As far as excuses go, this one’s probably right up there with the dog eating your homework: “Sorry, Boss, I’m going to be late…. actually, this might take awhile. You see, I’m stuck in lockdown at my daughter’s daycare. I think somebody’s trying to rob the bank across the street. I’m not really sure when I’ll be able to get out of here. I’ll call you later.”
The day started for me like they usually do: I dropped my first-grader off at his school, then headed up Summitview to KinderCare, the child care center that’s been watching my kids for the past 2 1/2 years.
The center is more than 30 blocks from my house, in the wrong direction from work, but I like it there. Why? Well, I love Ms. Veronica’s contagious laughter and chatting with Ms. Judy in the office. I like that my 4-year-old can write all her letters and recite the days of the week. But here’s what I’m really paying for: Safety.
I like the keypad lock at the front door and the six-foot fence around the playground. I like that administrators and parents are able to look into all the classrooms from the hall to make sure everything’s OK. And, I like the way the staff handled the emergency lockdown on Monday.
On my drive up Summitview, I had a little warning that things were shaping up strangely. Just as I was approaching the school, I had to pull over three times in one block for police vehicles with their lights flashing. While I was pretty sure they didn’t weren’t trying to surround ME, there was a brief moment where I was pulled over in front of Banner Bank (scene of the crime) and I was in fact surrounded my multiple police cars (and saw more lights coming my way). I ducked out of their way and pulled into the daycare parking lot, telling my daughter that we needed to hurry inside.
At the same time I was pulling into the lot, a teacher was parking a KinderCare bus after dropping elementary kids off at school. She saw what was shaping up on the street and hollered at another teacher whose class was playing outside that everybody needed to get in the building. The teachers immediately notified the center’s assistant director Judy Epperheimer, who was in charge of the building at that time, and she put the school in lockdown mode. Everybody — including three moms who were dropping off kids — would have to stay inside the building, away from the windows.
The staff was absolutely professional — calm and collected. Some of the older kids (including my Annie) thought “it’s silly to have moms at school,” but they didn’t have a clue about the cops and would-be robber who were outside. Center staff hung makeshift curtains over the windows to prevent the kids from seeing anything that might be going on outside. (I was curious and peeked out the windows, but there wasn’t much to see. Ultimately, that’s a good thing when you’re surrounded by dozens of children, I suppose.)
“It’s the first time in 23 years I’ve ever had an officer with a rifle come to the door,” Ms. Judy told me. It was the first time in her lengthy tenure that she’d ever needed to put the school’s emergency plan into use, thank goodness. But you’d never know it. Throughout the morning, she calmly handled an endless stream of calls: Parents and grandparents wanting to make sure their kids were safe. Parents and staff who weren’t able to get to the center because of police barricades.
Mostly, though, there was just business as usual: Reading books, practicing numbers, playing with dough and puppets and blocks. We used walking feet and listening ears and tried not to burp during lunch.
Ms. Judy offered the parents donuts and coffee. While munching my maple bar in the staff room, I noticed an official KinderCare calendar, published by the Portland-based parent company, Knowledge Learning Corporation. Each day has a different “to do” task for the centers. Somebody had checked off each day’s task as they’d been completed. Monday’s reminder, coincidentally: Update emergency plan. Check!
Nearly three hours after we arrived to drop off our kids, the three stranded moms got word that we could leave. We left. And we left our kids there…. because the center was doing exactly what we were paying them to do: Keeping our kids safe.
A million thanks, ladies!
Filed under Mama Says