The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

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Accidental lockdown alerts send Historic Campus into worried frenzy

On+Nov.+27+at+around+2%3A42+p.m.+two+different+lockdown+alerts+were+sent+out+on+Historic+Campus.+The+alerts+were+a+false+alarm+triggered+by+human+error.+
Midway Staff
On Nov. 27 at around 2:42 p.m. two different lockdown alerts were sent out on Historic Campus. The alerts were a false alarm triggered by human error.

Two different lockdown alerts sent students and faculty on the Historic Campus into a frenzy Nov. 27 at around 2:42 p.m. as teachers rushed to shelter students and follow the emergency lockdown protocol for what was later found to be a false alarm triggered by human error. 

The alert messages were broadcast over a 10-minute period followed by a muffled all-clear message.

About two hours later, an email addressing and explaining the incident was sent to all employees, students and parents from Marsha East, associate director for finance and operations, explaining that human error caused the incident and the operations team would work to make sure incidents like this would not be repeated. 

Even with a follow-up email, students were left in shock due to the hectic state of events. Earlier that day, an email had been sent about a lockdown drill that would take place on the Historic Campus Dec. 6, causing some students to think there was a glitch in the system and the drill was happening immediately. This issue was further amplified by the conflicting mixture of alerts through the emergency alert system, switching between lockdown and severe weather alert.

Sophomore Isabella Huang said, “When I initially heard the announcement I was pretty worried because it was so unexpected and my teacher didn’t get a heads up about it. So I thought something serious was going on, which made me feel scared. But after a little while, many people in my class noticed that the lockdown might have been an accident or a glitch in the system.”

During the alarm, administrators and faculty were quick to seek an explanation for the lockdown to assure people that the building was safe, and students and teachers could proceed with their planned activities.

In an email to the Midway, Laboratory Schools Director Tori Jueds wrote, “There were indications right off the bat that the alerts were issued by mistake, including the fact that there were multiple and contradictory messages, and the fact that our text and email system did not activate as they would in a real emergency.”

Some students now face the emotional impact of the surprising and stressful experience and its uncertain cause.

“I was very surprised because the teacher that I was with told us that it was not planned, and we were all very worried that it was real,” junior Lisa Tao said.

In addition to the all-clear message that sounded throughout the school at the end of the lockdown, the security team took steps to assure there was no threat to the school.

Ms. Jueds wrote in an email to the Midway that she recognizes that the uncertainty of the situation caused distress.

Both students and adults were alarmed and anxious, understandably, which we deeply regret,” she said. “Even drills and false alarms, because they evoke memories of tragic violence at other schools, can be very difficult. Students’ school counselors have been ready to help anybody who needs support in processing what happened, and students’ parents have been provided with resources that can help families talk through emotionally challenging experiences.”

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About the Contributor
Kabir Joshi, Assistant Editor
Kabir Joshi is a member of the Class of 2026 and is an assistant editor. As a ninth grader, he joined the U-High Midway during the 2022-23 school year. His favorite story that he has written is "Movie differentiates itself from others." Outside of the Midway, he runs cross country and loves spending time with his dog. Awards: 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, San Francisco convention: Excellent, review writing

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