Classes Searched During Soft Lockdown


Dogs were used during a search at Chester High School Feb. 23.

Kaci Trost, Sting Reporter

At Chester High School on Feb. 23rd, the school was put into a soft lockdown while the police department sent officers, and police dogs came into the school to search for drugs.

During 2nd hour, Mr. Blechle came onto the loudspeaker to explain that the school is going into a soft lockdown and classroom activities (lessons, homework, and classes) shall continue on as normal.

Even with this announcement, the bells were turned off and they did not ring at the end of 2nd and 3rd hour, which ends at 9:48 and 10:40. This also meant no students were allowed to leave the room, while any students who were not in the room were meant to return immediately and be allowed access into the room.

All the doors were required to be closed and locked, while windows to be shaded and locked. Communication between staff would be done through email or cell phone until the lockdown is lifted. It was said that in case of any emergency, teachers should contact the office immediately.

The lockdown was lifted at 11:12 and students were instructed to go to the correct classes, which would have been everybody’s 4th hour class.

The day after, an interview was held with the principal of Chester High School, Jeremy Blechle

It was stated by Mr. Blechle that the K9 units were trained to find many types of illegal substances. The police departments that were involved and provided dogs and officers for the search had included Sparta, Chester, Steelville, and Jackson County.

“The dogs searched lockers, locker rooms, parking lots, classrooms, and when the classrooms were searched,” Mr. Blechle said. “The students were evacuated from the room while dogs investigated the items in each room.”

There was no specific cause for the search, rather “schools before COVID-19 did at least 2 searches a year, and after the pandemic they stopped doing it as they didn’t want dogs in the school,” said Mr. Blechle. The district had started to get back into safety searches last year.

The search did yield results, and several students were disciplined. Hopefully, this can be a way to deter students from bringing any substances to school and to try their best to keep the school and the students safe. For the future, these searches will continue to be random, with at least 1-2 searches each year.