Olympus High School lockdown lifted, confusion over protocol continues

Sep 5, 2023, 11:05 AM | Updated: Sep 6, 2023, 6:12 am

HOLLADAY, Utah — Olympus High School lifted a lockdown protocol Tuesday at approximately 11:40 a.m.

The lockdown was in place due to a report of a weapon on campus, Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsley said.

He said the report came in just after 10 a.m. and that Granite and Unified Police departments worked together to search the school with their gun-sniffing K9, Bolt.

“They put the school on a lockdown as a precautionary measure just to ensure student safety, keep all the kids in their current classroom space, secure the doors and make sure that the school is able to proceed safely,” Horsley said.

Students said that at first, they thought it was a drill.

Isaac Swan said the school’s vice principal got in the intercom to announce the lockdown. Kids hunkered down in classrooms as teachers closed and locked doors, and turned off all lights.

“A kid supposedly had a gun, or something like that,” Isaac said, of the word that started to spread around campus.

Freshman Coco McBride said she saw four police officers walk by her classroom with the K9, and that it appeared police were looking for two students.

“I think everybody was just a little nervous, because I think a lot of people were obviously like talking to their parents,” she said. “Because we just didn’t know what was going on.”

Horsley explained the lockdown happened right before classes ended; so students in outside buildings, like seminary classes, came back to the school after it was already locked. Seminary buildings are close to, but off campus and exist for students to take a religious class during the school day.

Lockdown protocol uses the intercom system in the school to tell teachers and students about the lockdown. Horsley said since outside buildings like the seminary don’t share the same intercom system, someone from the school would have to call their office and the seminary would enact their own protocols. He did not explain if that happened in this case.

It’s not clear what protocols seminaries have in place for lockdowns.

A similar occurrence happened  at Taylorsville High in January, when shots were fired in the parking lot while students changed classes or were at lunch. There was some confusion on lockdown protocol since drills previously had only addressed lockdowns that occurred during class time.

Lessons in the lockdown: Can one school’s response to shots fired help improve safety plans in Utah?

KSL Investigators thoroughly reviewed the response in that case and found that because of the timing of the lockdown, it ultimately took over 12 minutes to get kids safely into a classroom and building on lockdown.

Confusion also arose with parents who told KSL TV that they did not receive timely updates on the lockdown.

Coco explained that her parents fell into that group.

“I think a lot of parents were nervous and like upset because they were hearing from their kids, that they were in a lockdown,” she said.

Horsley explained that they experienced a lag in communication that went out.

“We had a situation where one of our widgets on our website was not functioning correctly, so we couldn’t get the information posted and updated,” he said.

The lag was made even longer, he explained, because they were getting updates that indicated the situation might be resolved. They waited another minute to gather all information before sending out the alert, he explained.

“We always try to communicate as quickly as possible, but our primary concern will always be to secure the building in the campus,” Horsley said. “And that means that you’re oftentimes going to hear from your student before you hear from us.”

The district did eventually get the alert out to parents, and Horsley described how Bolt, their gun-sniffing dog, was able to help police quickly search the school while dispatchers poured over surveillance footage.

The protocol went into effect at approximately 10:15 and was lifted roughly an hour and a half later.

The district released a statement at approximately 10:40 a.m. that there was “no threat” and the lockdown was cautionary” students remained on lockdown for another hour while police went through the school.

Horsley said police were searching backpacks for a weapon, but ultimately no weapon or threat was found.

There were two students of interest, both were questioned and ultimately let go.

“I feel very comfortable that everything that could be done to help keep students safe and secure was done today,” he said.

Seven lockdowns have occurred statewide since the beginning of the 2023/2024 school year.

The district released this statement after the lockdown was over:

“Law enforcement has lifted the Lockdown Protocol at Olympus High School. Again, this Lockdown was precautionary in nature due to suspicious circumstances between students. There was never a direct threat to students or campus. The protocol was precautionary to ensure student safety. Students are being given an alternate schedule for the rest of the day. School is proceeding as normal otherwise. Thank you for your patience and support as we work to keep our students safe. The principal will be sending out a debriefing email within the next couple hours.”

KSL 5 TV Live

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Olympus High School lockdown lifted, confusion over protocol continues