PHENIX CITY, AL (WTVM) - Code red and yellow are the two lockdown levels for Phenix City public schools. Both were issued after a Columbus woman was shot and killed.
Seventh grade student Cole Renfroe shares what he remembers, saying "Well, the first thing I saw was Mrs. McCollum ran to the other door and locked it. So, that's when I probably knew something was up."
Renfroe was right. Shortly after 9 a.m. Friday, Phenix City Intermediate School was put on lockdown after Columbus Police notified Phenix City that there could be a connection between the suspect of a murder in Columbus and a student at the school.
"There's a stepchild in our school and we're just being overly cautious," Interim Superintendent Ron Hinton explains.
Putting the school on what the district calls a Code Red Lockdown.
"Which means we lock all the exterior doors, lock all the interior doors of the classes and turn off the lights and just make it appear as if there are no children in the class room," Joe Blevins, Director of Operations for Phenix City schools told News Leader 9.
Blevins says the precaution of giving the campus the illusion of being empty is taken when there is eminent danger in the area near a school. He tells me once the school is locked down, parents are notified of the situation. Once the danger is cleared, a code yellow is issued for schools to continue with caution.
"The teachers continue to teach," Blevins adds. "They do everything as if it's a code red. They lock the interior and exterior doors, but we don't turn off the lights and get out of the way. We basically keep teaching and run school. We just do it without moving around campus."
He says these plans were put in place after the 1999 Columbine High School shootings in Colorado, and drills are run in schools throughout the district on a regular basis to keep students and teachers prepared.
"I always think of those like fire extinguishers. I never wanna have to use a fire extinguisher, but I always want to have one available in case I do," Blevins jokes.
Blevins would not share specifics like how many drills are done a year or intimate details of the plans however, he did share that the drills are run about as often as tornado drills. I spoke to several students shortly after the lockdown was lifted who said the same.