‘Four minutes of fear’

A number of students who left Springer Memorial Secondary School yesterday distressed and in tears, along with their parents, said they believe a simulation exercise went too far.

The drill lasted only four minutes but it resulted in chaos as it left some children and teachers in fear and panic as two masked men ran through the school as part of the scenario, banging on doors and reportedly armed with weapons.

A fourth former described what happened inside as traumatising.

“There were children dropping down, children screaming and crying. This sort of thing ain’t right. I don’t mind them doing the drills because at some point it got to happen to prepare we, but they carry that there too far,” she cried.

A parent/guardian leaving the school with two students. (Picture by Maria Bradshaw)

Offering an apology for the incident on radio, principal Cheryl Gill explained that the drill, which she said was coordinated by the health and safety team, was part of simulation exercises planned for the school.

She told Starcom Network it was an orange alert which required everyone to stay in the classrooms and lock all doors and windows.

“The teachers were made aware of what the drill was going to be about. The teachers made the children aware when the exercise started that it was a simulation,” she stressed, while admitting there were masked individuals and the instruction was for them to knock on the doors.

In an on-air statement, Chief Education Officer Dr Ramona Archer-Bradshaw explained that the simulation was a collaboration between the Barbados Police Service and the Barbados Defence Service.

“We are seeking to allay the concerns of the wider public that the event was anything more than a drill. Any reports to the contrary would therefore be unsubstantiated. The ministry empathises with parents who felt that their children were otherwise in danger. To the contrary, drills of this nature seek to prepare for any such occurrences,” she said. (MB)

A sense of calm returned to Springer Memorial hours after the incident. (Picture by Sandy Pitt)



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