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Highline Public Schools
15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW Burien, WA 98166

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Monday-Friday: 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

White Center Heights Elementary School
10015 6th Avenue SW Seattle, WA 98146

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Understanding Lockdowns: A Guide for Families

Understanding Lockdowns: A Guide for Families

When you hear of a lockdown at your student's school, it's natural for your mind to race and for concern to set in. We understand that urge to ensure the safety of our young ones. However, it's important to know that lockdowns are often standard, precautionary measures rooted in our commitment to student safety. With this guide, we aim to provide information to alleviate some of the natural concerns you may have.

The safety of our students is our top priority. We take every report of a threat seriously, so precautionary lockdowns are not uncommon. Safety protocols differ based on the situation. We always inform families at the end of the day that a lockdown occurred and what triggered it. In most cases, lockdowns happen due to one of four scenarios:  

Modified lockdown due to police activity:

  • Police are responding to a situation nearby but not on the school campus.
  • During a modified lockdown, students can move about inside the school but not go outside. All exterior doors remain locked and windows are closed. Only known staff are allowed to enter. This ensures that no one enters the school while the police activity is in progress.

Full lockdown due to police activity:

  • Police are responding to a situation on or very close to the school grounds. 
  • There is no specific threat to students or campus, however law enforcement has advised the school to go into lockdown as a precaution to keep students and staff safe. 
  • Students and staff are in classrooms behind locked doors, staying quiet, low and out of sight. Windows and blinds are closed; lights are turned off. No one is allowed to enter or leave the school until the situation is resolved and the lockdown is lifted.

Modified lockdown:

  • This is a precautionary measure taken due to a potential threat that is unconfirmed and/or is not imminent.
  • Highline Safety & Security officers are notified.
  • Students can move about inside the school but not go outside. Exterior doors remain locked and windows are closed. Only known staff are allowed to enter. Exterior windows and blinds are closed.

Full lockdown:

  • We may call a full lockdown when we have received information about a potential threat such as the report of a weapon on campus or a credible safety concern.
  • Highline Safety & Security officers respond to the school.
  • Law enforcement is notified and may respond to the situation. 
  • Students and staff are in classrooms behind locked doors, staying quiet, low and out of sight. Windows and blinds are closed; lights are turned off. No one is allowed to enter or leave the school until law enforcement and school leaders determine that it's safe to resume normal activities.

Safety Tips for Families 

For the safety of your student, please follow these guidelines during a lockdown:

  • Do not call the school. School staff are directed not to answer outside calls (except those from district security or law enforcement) so they can stay focused on student safety. 
  • Do not come to the school. Your presence on or near campus could interfere with the law enforcement response and compromise your safety and that of others, including students.
  • Do not call the Safety & Security office so that all staff can focus on the safety of students and staff.