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Valley High practices safety measures

VALLEY — On Tuesday, Sept. 4, Valley High School went into “secure your area” mode. Also referred to as code orange, secure your area is a precautionary measure that ensures teachers and students are within their classroom with the doors locked.

“That’s our way of keeping kids in the classroom,” Principal Sherry Ashe said. “Teachers can’t let them be released to go to the bathroom, to go to the counselor’s office or any office, they have to keep their doors locked and keep them closed.”

Fortunately, secure your area does not always mean there is a specific threat to be worried about. According to Principal Ashe, code orange is usually called for heightened awareness or to ensure that everyone is accounted for.

“What that means is that there is something going on at the school or some kind of potential threat out in the community in which we would want to keep people in their place,” she said. “We locked everyone in their rooms. We locked the perimeter of our doors so that, should someone try to come into our area, they couldn’t get in. It keeps our children safe.”

Tuesday morning’s call to secure your area came so that a K9 unit could sweep through random classrooms to sniff out any drugs.

Principal Ashe was proud to say that none were found and class carried on normally after approximately 30 minutes.

Code orange could be considered a “mild” alert.  If faculty and staff are instructed to stay vigilant for a minor threat like a school fight or severe weather, code yellow is called.

In the event of an actual threat, the school goes into “lockdown,” or code red.

“If there ever is an immediate threat like if a bad guy was in the school or we knew someone was going to charge in or something like that, then we go on lockdown,” Ashe said.

Using the word “lockdown” is reserved only for extreme situations, though.

“We won’t say that word unless it is the real McCoy,” Principal Ashe continued.

To broadcast the more minor alerts, a signal is sent to teachers on their connected electronic devices. Using the intercom is normally reserved for code red situations, but Principal Ashe said she broadcast during Tuesday’s secure your area in order to emphasize that there was no active threat.

Along with mandatory monthly drills, Ashe said she plans to do more with secure your area precautions in order to educate students and their parents on the level of severity.

She said that students will text or call their parents sometimes in the event of   a code orange, causing more worry than necessary.

“We get better at it every time we do it,” Ashe said. “We will probably do a lot more of code orange because we want the parents to get used to it also. It is not the same thing as the code red’s.