Winooski lockdown leaves parents with questions - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Winooski lockdown leaves parents with questions

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When the Winooski school complex went into lockdown Wednesday, parents panicked.

"I was very worried about the kids that were here and the teachers that were here because of the after-school program," said Mary Davis, a Winooski mom.

Armed officers and tactical tanks circled the campus as many students evacuated and others bunkered down inside with teachers, while authorities searched for a potential gunman. In the end, it turned out to be a false alarm and the campus was cleared.

Superintendent Sean McMannon says school staff and students followed emergency procedures perfectly and that the feedback he's received from parents has been positive.

"They felt that the school in conjunction with law enforcement responded perfectly and that even students that were inside the building felt safe," McMannon said.

"I agree," said Katherine Whalon, a Winooski mom. "They took all the right steps that they were supposed to."

But other parents we spoke with Friday disagreed.

"I don't think I would say perfectly; it could have probably been done a little better, maybe a little earlier notification," said Hank Chagnon, a Winooski dad.

Many argued they were left in the dark and that a voice mail from the superintendent about the incident hours after it started simply came too late.

"It would have been nice to be updated right when it was going on to begin with," Davis said.

Also a major point of contention-- whether the doors to the campus were locked after school?

"Where our daughter is in the after-school program they actually leave a side door open so you can get into it. So, the main door is locked, but the side entrance is wide open," said David Burlingame, a Winooski dad.

"I would like the doors to be locked at all times, so that someone couldn't get into the school," Chagnon said.

Superintendent McMannon says there clearly is a "misunderstanding" and that shy of a specific community event drawing large numbers of people to campus after hours, the doors are locked.

"After school hours all the external doors are already locked, students need an adult with them, a point adult that has access to the building. An intruder would either have access-- or someone from the inside would have to let them in," McMannon said.

What the community can agree on is that all are glad everyone is safe and getting that message across to the kids caught up in Thursday's chaos is key.

"I just want them to know that school is a safe place to be; you don't have anything to worry about," Whalon said.

Related Stories:

Lessons learned from Winooski school lockdown

Winooski school complex cleared after search for possible gunman

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