Information on Lockdown Procedures

From the Superintendent and Chief of Police

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September 12, 2022

Dear Winnetka Families,

The security and well-being of our students and staff continues to be of critical importance to District 36. Incidents of violence in public places and schools are unfortunately too frequent and too close to home, making it critical that we remain steadfast in our commitment to keeping our schools as safe and secure as possible. District 36 maintains a strong partnership with the Winnetka Police Department in our efforts to provide safe and secure learning environments in all of our buildings. In 2013, we began conducting law enforcement safety drills in accordance with Illinois state law. The drills include the participation of both the Winnetka Police and Fire Departments. Both students and staff have participated in the drills so they understand what actions to take in the event of a dangerous situation.

In the coming weeks, we will conduct law enforcement safety drills at all of our schools. Before the drill, teachers will talk to their classes and walk students through the procedures. When speaking to students in younger grades about the drills, teachers will talk in general terms stating things like, “Just like we practice fire drills and have to leave the building, we also need to practice for emergencies that may require us to find a safe place inside the building.” Please take a few minutes and speak with your child about the purpose of the drills and reinforce the commitment both District 36 and the Winnetka Police Department have in keeping our students and staff safe.

In the summer of 2021, there were a couple of noteworthy adjustments made to the Illinois School Safety Drill Act, Public Act 102-0395, including the following:

  • A student may be exempt from participating in lockdown exercises through written notification from a parent or guardian at least 24 hours prior to the start of the exercises. Please contact your principal directly if this is of interest.

  • Schools are required to provide education and instruction related to lockdown procedures to non-participating students.

  • Students are allowed to ask questions during the exercises.

While it is important for our staff and students to know how to respond in the event of an emergency, it is also important to us that law enforcement safety drills are conducted in a manner that does not create fear or panic, but rather, instills confidence and a sense of purpose in an emergency scenario. Any law enforcement safety drill will be announced in advance to all school personnel and students. Parents and guardians will also receive advance notice of the drill and may exempt their child from participating if they choose.

The Winnetka Police Department will be present to observe and evaluate the effectiveness of our procedures. Below are a few notes about our lockdown activities:

  • We will communicate with our students in an age-appropriate manner about what to do in the event of a lockdown situation.

  • All building occupants participate in these activities: students, staff, and any visitors who may be in the building at that time.

  • School administrators and school personnel may, at their discretion, exempt a student(s) from participating in a lockdown activities.

  • There WILL NOT be any simulations, gunfire or otherwise, during these exercises.

  • Students and staff are invited to engage in appropriate discussion during the drill to address questions and alleviate any concerns this may bring up for students.

In partnership with the Winnetka Police Department, schools may initiate a lockdown or restricted access. A lockdown involves the presence of an intruder in a school or an incident that could pose a threat to the safety of staff and students within the building or on campus. Restricted access occurs when a dangerous situation or threat is taking place in the vicinity of the school and requires the controlled entrance and exit of students, parents, and staff.

In addition to law enforcement safety drills, Winnetka Police Officers frequently visit our schools and provide a visible presence on school properties. We are grateful to have this opportunity to connect with our students and staff outside of emergency situations. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your building Principal.


Dr. Kelly Tess, Superintendent, The Winnetka Public Schools


Marc Hornstein, Chief of Police, Winnetka Police Department