Pottsgrove Locked-Down Buildings, Evacuated Children

Pottsgrove Locked-Down Buildings, Evacuated ChildrenPOTTSTOWN PA – Buildings in the Pottsgrove School District, located near Wednesday’s (July 10, 2013) emergency on Lynn Drive in Lower Pottsgrove Township, became both the subjects of lock-downs and a focal point of media attention as the hours-long situation unfolded.

At about noon, according to a district-distributed e-mail, the Ringing Rocks Elementary,  Lower Pottsgrove Elementary, Pottsgrove High, and district office buildings all were locked and public entry barred, and their occupants initially sheltered inside. But as the crisis developed, reporters from area television, radio, print and online news outlets used the circular patio and wall outside the Kauffman Road high school as a staging and interview area.

Ringing Rocks, Lower Pottsgrove and the high school were occupied by children and supervising adults attending “various summer programs,” the e-mail said. “Under police direction,” it added, students at Ringing and the high school were later evacuated and bused to Pottsgrove Middle School on North Hanover Street. Students at Lower, a greater distance from the action, were released to parents or transported home by the district at about 2:45 p.m.

“To be clear,” the e-mail said, “the events that precipitated the lock-down and evacuation were focused on a home near the Kauffman Road campus and not on the school campus or in any of our schools. District personnel worked closely with local law enforcement to ensure student safety at all times and an orderly process for evacuating students and non-essential district personnel from the vicinity of the activity.”

At about 6:30 p.m., a second e-mail announced the police activity had “concluded and the Pottsgrove schools and campus have been cleared to resume scheduled activities on Thursday.”

By that time, television viewers across greater Philadelphia had already seen aerial and ground shots of the high school and Ringing campuses and their proximity to Lynn Drive, as well as “stand-ups” done by several on-air TV reporters who used the patio wall as a backdrop for their openings to the day’s story.

The e-mails also reminded recipients that Pottsgrove’s new website was up and running, and offered several communications tools that “enhance our ability to communicate with district families.” Parents and residents were encouraged to explore or register for them, and to ensure the district had “your most current contact information.”

Administrators emphasized they intend to re-examine Wednesday’s crisis as a learning opportunity. “We will review the events of the day, as we endeavor to find ways to fine-tune our emergency protocols,” one e-mail concluded.

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