Breaking News
More () »

School lockdowns 101: What you need to know about the different types

School districts often vary with how they refer to their procedures in an emergency situation. Here's what we found.

SAN ANTONIO — When it comes to school lockdowns, there are different types and each district may call them something different depending on the situation. Whenever a situation comes up, KENS 5 works to explain what we know as quickly and transparently as possible.

"The terminology can vary from district to district. But the meanings are the same," Aubrey Chancellor, a spokesperson for North East Independent School District. "Typically, you hear about a soft vs. hard lockdown. At NEISD, we removed the word “soft” because we wanted to be clearer when it came to the difference between the two. We now have either a lockdown or a lockout."

Chancellor said, generally speaking, a lockdown means an imminent threat on campus. It involves students hiding under desks, lights will be turned off, doors locked and everyone is quiet.

A lockout or what other districts may call a “soft lockdown” means there is not an imminent threat on campus – but, instead there is a possible threat outside of the campus, Chancellor said.

"These would be instances where police are searching for a suspect, or a suspect is on the run, etc. In this case, class goes on as usual – but, students are not going outside for any reason and people are not allowed to come inside. Essentially, the exterior of the campus is locked, but inside is not."

That's similar to what Judson ISD experienced on several school campuses on Tuesday after deputies heard shots fired near Metzger Middle School. Judson ISD said Metzger Middle School was placed on a lockdown while it referred to other nearby schools in the district as being on a perimeter lockdown, where no one was allowed to leave or come onto the campuses.

According to Northside ISD's 2021-2022 Secondary Student-Parent Handbook, "lock-down drills may be conducted to prepare schools for emergency situations when students and staff may be in imminent danger of serious bodily injury."

In the past, NISD has referred to some situations as having a modified lockdown or a lockdown. Barry Perez, who serves as Executive Director of Communications and as a spokesman for NISD, shared this information:

  • Modified Lockdown - this means all exterior exits are secured and, in most cases, no one is allowed entry into the building. Generally, students continue their normal schedule/routine inside although they will be kept inside and not sent outside. (Slight modifications may be made to the protocols depending on the situation/scenario at hand.)
  • Lockdown - this means the campus is locked down more completely with students and staff sheltering in place in classrooms with secured doors. Normal schedules/routines stop until further notice/directions are provided by campus administration. There is no entry into the building.

"In SAISD, a lockdown is when we lock doors, cut off lights, and remain out of sight," Laura Short, Director of Communications for the district, said. "This is different than a lockout, which is when we lock doors, but inside the building, we continue normal activities."

We've reached out to other local districts as well for clarity on their procedures.

This story will be updated with new information as it becomes available.


Before You Leave, Check This Out