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School emergency safety tips for parents

After a Richland County school bus was hijacked, area schools were ordered to lockout. Officials said parents should not go to the school during these times.

KERSHAW COUNTY, S.C. — On Thursday, deputies reported a Richland County school bus was hijacked by a Fort Jackson army trainee with 18 elementary students on the bus. This early morning incident forced some school districts in the Midlands to place lockout orders. 

RELATED: 6 minutes of trauma: Sheriff says bus hijacking suspect pointed gun at students, driver

"As a parent, you definitely want to try to ensure the safety of your child in an event such as that," said Doug Bowling, Kershaw County School District Safety and Security Coordinator. "This morning, with our situation, we actually had the entrances and exits to the school, shut down by Kershaw County Sheriff's Office and our SRO's.”

During emergency situations at schools like lockouts, Bowling said parents should not to go to the school, unless instructed to by official personnel.  

"We recommend parents not come to the school and not call because   number one, if we had to have emergency vehicles come to the location, the influx of parents trying to pick up the kids could not only place themselves in danger, but also hinder the response vehicles coming to help," Bowling said. 

Sherry East is the President of the South Carolina Education Association. East said if parent's arrive to their school, the child might not be there.

"We do practice that the active shooter or active emergency drills," East said. "We also have in place, the recovery plan which is to reunite the children with their families. When we do that, like at my school in particular, we had a safe spot that we would be transported to. So we would transport our children off to a safe spot which in my situation is going to be a church, and then we would tell the parents to meet us at the church."

Before an emergency situation occurs, East said it's important for parent's to contact their student's school and ask what their safety protocols are. 

"If you don't know your child's exit plan, you need to know that you need to call your district and say we have an active shooter, and I need to pick up my child. Where is my child's spot to get picked up? What is the plan in case of an emergency," East asked. 

Bowling also suggest, during emergency situations, look and listen out for your school districts public information officers updates.

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