SOUTH ORANGE AND MAPLEWOOD, NJ - There was a scheduled, but unannounced, Code Red Drill at South Orange Middle School (SOMS) on Friday morning, according to an email sent from the South Orange Maplewood School District (SOMSD) to SOMS families at about 11 am. on Friday, Nov. 2.

The email stated that the drill was monitored by representatives from the NJDOE's Office of School Preparedness and Emergency Planning and representatives from the Essex County Prosecutor's Office.

South Orange Police also sent an alert about the drill at about 10:45 a.m. stating "the South Orange Police Department is conducting a public safety drill at the South Orange Middle School today. Please be advised that an increased police presence is only a drill. THIS IS NOT AN EMERGENCY."

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There was also a Code Red Drill at Clinton Elementary School at about 12:15 p.m., according to a second email from the SOMSD that was sent at about 12:30 p.m. An alert from Maplewood police at about 12:40 p.m. stated that there was a mandatory Code Red Drill in progress at Clinton School, and that no entry would be allowed into the school during the drill. "Parents and visitors are asked to maintain a safe distance away from the school during the drill," stated the alert from Maplewood police. 

A second alert from Maplewood police at about 1:10 p.m. stated that the drill had Clinton had concluded.

The full email to SOMS families is below:

Dear SOMS Families,

As you know, we conduct state-mandated emergency drills – both a fire drill, and a security drill – every month, so that students and staff know what to do to protect themselves in various situations.

Today, we had a scheduled, but unannounced, “Code Red” drill. A Code Red is generally called when there is the threat or possibility of an Armed Intruder in the building.  This is the most serious form of lockdown. In such a situation, the halls would be emptied and students, staff and visitors would be secured in locked rooms until released by the police. 

Today’s drill was monitored by representatives from the NJDOE’s Office of School Preparedness and Emergency Planning, as well as representatives from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. This is part of a collaborative, statewide effort to ensure safe and secure school environments and to increase capacity to respond in the event of crises.

As always, we will evaluate the effectiveness of our procedures in today’s drill, and assess whether there are any adjustments which can strengthen our standard safety practices. We will incorporate any feedback provided by the State and County representatives in this assessment.

We are grateful for the partnership of the South Orange Police Department in helping us practice this and other drills, and in keeping our schools, students and staff safe.  

South Orange Maplewood School District

The full email about Code Red Drills at SOMS and Clinton which was sent to SOMSD families is below:

Dear SOMSD Families,

As you know, we conduct state-mandated emergency drills – both a fire drill, and a security drill – every month, so that students and staff know what to do to protect themselves in various situations.

Today, we had a scheduled, but unannounced, “Code Red” drill at SOMS, and we just began a drill at Clinton. A Code Red is generally called when there is the threat or possibility of an Armed Intruder in the building.  This is the most serious form of lockdown. In such a situation, the halls would be emptied and students, staff and visitors would be secured in locked rooms until released by the police. 

Today’s drill was monitored by representatives from the NJDOE’s Office of School Preparedness and Emergency Planning, as well as representatives from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. This is part of a collaborative, statewide effort to ensure safe and secure school environments and to increase capacity to respond in the event of crises.

As always, we will evaluate the effectiveness of our procedures in today’s drill, including monitoring students’ reactions, and assess whether there are any adjustments which can strengthen our standard safety practices. We will incorporate any feedback provided by the state and county representatives in this assessment.

We are grateful for the continued partnership of the South Orange and Maplewood Police Departments in helping us practice this and other drills, and in keeping our schools, students and staff safe. 

South Orange Maplewood School District

Suzanne Turner, Director of Strategic Communications for the South Orange Maplewood School District, stated that there was also a scheduled but unannounced security drill at Marshall Elementary School on Monday, Oct. 29. South Orange Police also sent an alert about that drill, advising of increased police presence and that it was not an emergency.

Editor's note: This article was originally published about the Code Red Drill at South Orange Middle School and was updated to also include information about the Code Red Drill at Clinton Elementary School.