After the frightening lockdown at Magill Elementary and Grace Snell Middle on the afternoon of Jan. 9, parents are calling for schools to communicate more openly during a time of crisis.
Patch reader Garrett Cronnelly posted the following comment on the original story:
"To Magill Elementary Administrators:
While we felt secure that our children were being protected by procedures and their teachers, we felt that the lack of communication from Magill and Grace Snell Administrators for 1 1/2 hours from the school was ridiculous and terrifying.
A simple recorded message would have been sufficient to calm our fears. Yet over 30 phone calls (neither school answered any of my repeated calls) and countless conversations with neighbors FINALLY led us to the AJC article that was published at 4:18 more than 30 minutes after my children usually arrive home. I drove to Magill to try to see what was wrong, but the officer outside the school would not speak to me and none of the parents in the 1/2 mile long parent pick-up lane knew any information.
JC Magill has a twitter account yet still no news from the school. All calls to Magill and Grace Snell are still going unanswered (4:40 p.m.). Magill website has no information. Gwinnett county website has no information.
When my electricity goes out I call Walton EMC and I get a pre-recorded message saying that they know my power is out, but they are on their way to fix it. How my electric company can be more sensitive to my family’s needs than our neighborhood school is completely unacceptable.
Really, how hard could it be to put up a recorded message or a statement on your web page?"
Cronnelly also stated that information about the lockdown was sent home in a letter to concerned parents. His children, in first, second and fourth grade, read the letter, and were terrified.
"These letters should have been sent in sealed envelopes," Cronnelly wrote. "Having my second grade daughter read that letter on the way home is completely unacceptable. The words strange man, gun shots and playground are words she has been repeating all evening, now."
Gwinnett County PD PIO Jake Smith stated that there was a report of gunfire near the school, but that it was just teenagers with fireworks. The school went into lockdown at 3:20 p.m. and was not lifted until 4:15 p.m.
Do you think more should have been done? What would you recommend? If you have children at the two schools, Hhow did they feel after the lockdown? Tell us in the comments.