Emmett J. Conrad High School serves the Vickery Meadow area, which due to its high density and number of apartment communities, is one of Dallas’ higher-crime neighborhoods. It’s home to many refugees and related services.
Yesterday, when violent activity broke out in close proximity to Conrad’s campus, the high school went into lockdown protocol, which was frightening for students, teachers and other staffers, according to a teacher who chatted with us yesterday by text.
Shortly after Thursday’s suspected attempted murder and apparent suicide at Metro at Midtown Apartments, in the 5800 block of Pineland, near the school, Conrad went into lockdown mode. It began with an announcement. Teacher Jacqueline Smith says “the lockdown announcement was very serious.”
“Admins were running down the halls, their walk talkies super loud and urgent sounding. It was during my off period and lunch so another teacher and I grabbed every kid in the hall into my room.
We got under the tables farthest from the windows and waited. According to a student who was with a group of mostly 9th graders doing a mock STAAR test, the cafeteria was absolute bedlam. You can’t hear announcements in there and the adult/student ratio is not great: like maybe 5 adults for 300 kids or something.
Smith said the initial lockdown was 15 minutes or so, but after that, they moved into a modified lockdown for another length of time, maybe an hour. “The whole modified lockdown time was constant sirens and helicopters circling. It made everyone very nervous.” She and the other teacher eventually had lunch under tables.
She also sent a photo of a shot-out window at the school, from the previous night, that was unrelated, but which drives home the atmosphere that existed yesterday on campus even prior to the lockdown.
Conrad principal Vivian Chandler sent letters home to parents, explaining the lockdown.
“This afternoon we initiated our campus safety protocol due to police activity near our campus. All students remained safe and normal activities resumed once cleared by law enforcement,” the letter read.
“We understand this type of situation can cause alarm, and we encourage you to take time to discuss this matter with your student.”
The National Association of School Psychologists offers tips for speaking to children about lockdowns. That includes answering their questions and helping them to separate real from fantasy and making sure they know how to access emotional support. The specialists suggest monitoring your kid’s mental state following a lockdown.
According to DISD, during an event that causes a real lockdown, “the role of Dallas ISD police officers will take precedence. The officers will communicate with other officers in the district or other government agencies. After the incident, the principal will distribute a letter or email about the event. If there is a major incident, a spokesperson on behalf of the district may communicate to parents and the general public. However, during a real event, communication is limited because the first priority is to handle the situation and ensure the safety of those at the location.”
According to a 2018 Washington Post analysis, more than 4 million children in public schools nationwide per year endure a real school lockdown (they all go through drills), a response to a potential active shooter.
For younger children or a student with anxiety or past trauma, real lockdowns can be horrifying.
Many Conrad students are refugees who have come from war torn and violent places.