Lock Down, Lock Out, No End

Lock Down, Lock Out, No End

No End in Sight

More than two weeks after the first lockdown, there is no return to normalcy in sight for public schools in Montgomery County.

Even before the fatal shooting of a bus driver in Aspen Hill on Tuesday, Oct. 22, area schools continued with heightened security measures.

“Our guidance department is a little more concerned about our kids,” said OuYang. “It’s changed our athletes in particular. … It keeps dragging on, and their seasons are ending.”

Before the Tuesday shooting, Whitman assistant principal Dr. Alan Goodwin described the school’s situation as a modified code blue.

Whitman students had to be accounted for, physical education classes were canceled and there was no open lunch. However, some interns were allowed to come and go from the building.

“We’ve been getting more and more parents coming in to help monitor the doors,” said Goodwin. “They all want to know specifically what to do.”

Churchill also received more parent volunteers than usual in the past two weeks

“We’re trying to get parents to monitor the halls,” said Churchill PTSA president Sharon Bourke. “We just put the call out last week.”

Even before any requests, an increased number of parents were volunteering to help the school during the past two weeks, said Bourke. Parents and school staff monitor the doors during lockdown to help ensure that all students are accounted for.

“MOST CONCERNS are really about getting kids to and from school safely,” said Bourke. “Once they’re in school, parents feel like their kids are safe, and kids feel like they’re safe.”

“It’s safe in school, it’s safe in the hallways,” said OuYang. “When you leave, when you wonder when to drive around, that’s when it comes to mind.”

Churchill’s one lunch period is a lingering problem when the school is in lockdown and open lunch is suspended.

“The biggest problem is when kids go to lunch. … When it went on the first couple of days, it was just an inconvenience; now it’s really an inconvenience,” said Bourke. “Nobody wants to sit for almost two periods in one class.”

“The [students’] frustrations are the obvious ones,” said Goodwin, who also mentioned seniors who miss out on open lunch. “They wait three years to enjoy that privilege.”

“The kids have been fantastic, but it’s beginning to wear on them,” said OuYang. “They’re dying to get out. The Frisbee guys aren’t out there any more. … As for hanging out and enjoying the fall weather, they can’t do that.”

CANCELLATION OF outdoor activities has wrought particular havoc on varsity and junior varsity sports teams. While volleyball has resumed play, the other varsity teams at Churchill, Whitman and Wootton have gone two weeks without playing and have had to scramble for practice space inside the schools.

“It’s been a little hectic rearranging schedules and notifying coaches and players of cancellations,” said Whitman athletic director David Magathan. “Mostly it’s been frustrating seeing the kids stuck indoors. … They’re all anxious to get outside.

Churchill cross country coach Steve Bettis also says the seniors are in an especially tough situation.

“It’s had a huge impact on the seniors,” said Bettis. “Recruiters can’t see them run in the meets.”

Georgetown Prep’s cross country invitational meet, which includes many local public and private schools, scheduled for Oct. 19, was canceled.

“Every day I send them an email, something like, ‘Hang in there,’” said Bettis. “It’s killing me too, because I run with them every day.”

“Those that wanted to — I’ve been able to find them practice time almost every day,” said Magathan. While most varsity teams have continued practicing, the seasons for some junior varsity teams ended during the code blue situation.

GENERAL OPINION about the school security had not changed much in the past week, according to Goodwin.

“There has not been a great outpouring of complaints,” he said on Monday.

“I haven’t heard any complainers,” said OuYang, who said that students realize their problems are minuscule in comparison with those of the victims in the sniper shootings. “There’s more of an appreciation for what they have, and also a better appreciation for relating with their peers and their parents.”

“Everybody’s frustrated with this whole thing, and everybody would like to see it come to some sort of an end,” said Magathan.