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Semi-lockdown at elementary in Springville

Doors locked to Sage Creek for hours during the nearby standoff

SPRINGVILLE — Sage Creek Elementary School was in a semi-lockdown for almost four hours Tuesday, while police negotiated with an armed man nearby.

Doors were locked but students, faculty and staff could move throughout the building as needed. Free movement is not permitted during a full lockdown, said Principal Natalie Call.

"I was notified by a parent there was an incident down the street from our school, which is about a half block away from where our playground is," Call said.

Call then talked with Springville police.

"They didn't feel like we were in imminent danger," she said. "I felt for the safety of the students, we needed to keep them contained in the building."

The semi-lockdown began about 9 a.m. Call and school employees who did not have any classes occasionally checked the doors, she said, to make sure they remained locked.

The 630 students did not get a recess until the semi-lockdown ended about 11:45 p.m. No one tried to enter the school during that time.

Call had a plan if the standoff had continued through the end of the school day. Students who walk to school would not be able to leave unless their parents picked them up; students who ride buses would not be allowed out of the building until the buses arrived; and parents who drive their children to school would have to enter the building to get their children.

In the five years that Call has been principal, there has never been a full lockdown, she said.

During the semi-lockdown, Springville police talked with an armed man who had locked himself inside a house at 975 S. 400 East. His girlfriend believed he wanted to have a confrontation with police, Springville Police Lt. Dave Caron said.

Police used a robot, loudspeaker and camera to contact the man.

The semi-lockdown at the elementary school was mostly precautionary, said Rick Nielsen, Nebo School District's elementary education director.

"Because the kids were able to be free moving in the school, really all that we said to the students today is that we weren't going to let them outside for recess," Nielsen said. "If you're in total lockdown, that's a different situation. Students are not allowed outside classrooms."

The district has issued a handbook for schools to follow during crisis situations such as fires or violence. Teachers and principals are trained to follow the guidelines, Nielsen said.

Nielsen declined to reveal all the steps used in managing a lockdown, saying he did not want to reveal information that criminals could use to their advantage. Sometimes the students are prohibited from leaving the classrooms. Sometimes, all students are ushered into one room, he said.


E-mail: lhancock@desnews.com