ELHS Temporarily Sheltered In Place Today

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Alice Dreger for ELi

East Lansing High School in October 2021.

East Lansing High School temporarily sheltered in place this morning due to a medical emergency, according to an administrative assistant at the school.

East Lansing Info received word of the shelter-in-place order from someone inside the building slightly before 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 27. When we called the high school at 10:15 a.m., we were told that the shelter-in-place order had ended and had been issued due to a medical emergency.

In 2016, ELi spoke to East Lansing Police Department Deputy Chief Steve Gonzalez, who was then a lieutenant, about the difference between shelter-in-place or secure-in-place orders versus a lockdown.

ELi is sharing what we learned then with you now.

What does it mean when ELPD or MSU Police recommends people “secure in place”?

Gonzalez explained that this phrase means that wherever people are, at home or at work, “we recommend that they stay inside, with the doors and windows locked, and don’t come back outside until you are told that everything is safe.” Don’t go outside unless you absolutely have to.

If you are outside when the order comes, “go to the nearest building that you consider safe and go inside, keep secure, and stay locked in.”

Gonzalez notes that the term means different things in different locales—FEMA’s website, for example, suggests “secure in place” can involve shutting down ventilation systems, as during a biological or chemical threat—but what ELPD and MSU Police mean when they say “secure in place” is go inside and lock yourself in, staying away from windows and doors.

What is a lockdown?

Gonzalez explains that this is a term usually used in conjunction with schools. “Lockdowns” require more actions than a “secure in place” order does.

An “external lockdown” refers to a perceived threat outside the building. This kind of order happens, for example, when there is a shooter on the loose. When there is an external lockdown at the schools, usually that means instruction stops and the children, teachers, and staff go into safe rooms or interior rooms with minimal windows. The doors are locked, and they remain locked-down until an “all clear” order is given. Police will be on site.

An “internal lockdown” means there is a perceived threat inside the building. In this case, every room is immediately locked and typically lights are shut off to make it harder to see vulnerable people. Teachers, staff, and children move to interior closets, or if none is available, they retreat to a blind corner (not visible from a window) and remain quiet. Obviously, police come as soon as an internal lockdown is triggered.

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