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JeffCo schools have emergency buckets where people can pee during lockdowns

Lock Downs are becoming a fact of life at schools - and now 'Go Buckets' have been introduced to make sure the kids have something to eat and a potential bathroom if Lock Downs last for a long time.
Credit: Nelson Garcia
Evergreen Middle School is collecting donations to create Emergency Go Buckets for students to use during long lock downs when the bathrooms are not reachable.

EVERGREEN — When Stacey Weiland read the latest school supply requests, she was surprised at what the principal at Evergreen Middle School is requesting.

"He requested kitty litter, hand sanitizer, trash bags," Weiland said.

Classrooms are normally fairly accessible with kids going in and out during the day, but every teacher is prepared to follow a "Lock Down" procedure if there is a perceived threat in the building. Teachers lock the door, turn off the lights and move students from sight. No one is allowed to go in or out of the classroom.

"It's the scariest thing you've ever gone through," said assistant principal Katie Piane. "We had teachers -- teachers are ready to protect kids."

At times, Lock Downs can also be long. John McDonald is the executive director of security and emergency management for the Jefferson County School District. He says a few years ago, students at Alameda High School were confined to their rooms for four-and-a-half hours during a Lock Down.

"Students, teachers, used classroom closets, wastebaskets for bio breaks," McDonald said. "At the end of the day, we had a biohazard cleanup that was required."

McDonald says a school resource officer offered the idea of creating Emergency Go Buckets. Kitty litter is spread across the bottom of an empty painter's bucket. Using a sheet for privacy, McDonald says students and teachers can now relieve themselves if they have to wait a long time to be cleared from a Lock Down.

"When they're in an environment, close quarter environment for a long period of time, how do we protect them and provide them with a sense of dignity?" McDonald said.

Food and candy are also included in the Emergency Go Buckets to help those who may need sugar during the wait.

"These threats require us to think differently than we have ever before," McDonald said.

Evergreen is not alone in this effort. McDonald says about half of the schools in JeffCo have Emergency Go Buckets in every classroom.

Weiland says she understands the need, but she's saddened by the fact that this is the reality of keeping schools secure.

"It's very sad that they have to live in fear," Weiland said.

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