Early on in the two-hour soft lockdown at PHS and two neighboring elementary schools Wednesday, parents were searching for information after receiving texts from their children.
One parent emailed Palatine Patch, “At 11:30 a.m. my daughter started texting me at work asking what is going on in Palatine, the school is on lock down? As of 12:30 they were still on lock down and were not being told why.”
Both Virginia Lake and Jane Addams elementary schools also were put on a soft lockdown as a precaution.
The high school, along with District 211 took action first to secure everyone inside the building while working with police to assess the situation and threat.
“Our number one priority is the safety of students and staff in these types of situations,” said Tom Petersen, director of community relations for District 211. “We follow the lead of the police, and set our procedures based on their recommendations.”
A “soft” lockdown means the threat is outside the building, and no one is permitted to leave or enter. Even students who had gone off-campus for lunch were not allowed back into the school.
“Police in front of our school told us we could not enter the building after we came back from lunch,” according to one PHS senior.
“The students and staff inside continue to go about their day during this type of situation, for everyone's safety,” Petersen said.
Information was posted on the D211 website, in addition to the Palatine High School website, at 12:20 p.m., to inform parents. District 15 also posted an announcement on their website to keep parents updated on the situation.
Automated phone calls also were made to PHS parents and guardians who are signed up for emergency alerts.
The first call was made at 12:37 p.m., stating PHS was on a soft lockdown because multiple witnesses reported seeing individuals with a handgun at an apartment complex near the school.
The second automated call stated police had a person in custody, and the soft lockdown had been lifted. That call came in at 1:32 p.m. .
The juveniles involved were then taken into custody by Palatine Police.
Conversely, if there were ever a threat inside the building, such as an intruder, a “hard” lockdown would be instated, according to Petersen.
In that situation, students and staff are confined to their rooms as police and other safety personnel secure the building. Students outside the building for physical education, for example, would also be confined to a safe location determined by supervising staff.
If you are a parent who did not receive an automated call about this incident, you can sign up through the Infinite Campus Parent Portal, to make sure you are kept up-to-date in the case of other emergency notifications in the future.