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Trib editorial: Review warranted after Norwin's 'false' alarm

| Wednesday, April 4, 2018, 11:15 a.m.
A screen shot from a video shows students reacting during Norwin High School's false alarm.
A screen shot from a video shows students reacting during Norwin High School's false alarm.

The inadvertent “panic” alarm set off at Norwin High School Monday should have been an opportunity to demonstrate the school's preparedness. Instead, this specific alarm, which signals that an active shooter or intruder is on campus, reportedly set off about 15 minutes of confusion for some students and staff.

To the school's credit, about 700 students were safely evacuated by the adults in charge. But there were accounts from students about confusion and that at least one door-locking device didn't work. There were also reports of some students in tears and fearing for their lives.

Emergency drills at the high school are scheduled twice a year, we're told, and advance notice is sent to parents and students. But whether the alarm was scheduled or not, there should have been no perplexity or hesitation, by students or staff (including substitute teachers), about what to do. As well, an explanation is owed as to how the false alarm was triggered — and how future episodes can be avoided.

School security has risen to the top of the public's radar, as well it should in the aftermath of horrific school shootings. What unfolded at Norwin High School should be instructional for that school district and schools throughout the area in determining what went wrong — and what needs to be corrected.

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