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Megan Bernard, Editor
3:15 pm CST November 8, 2019

The Winnetka Police Department responded to New Trier High School’s Winnetka campus at 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8, for a report of a lockdown.

The lockdown was activated in error, according to a tweet posted at 2:25 p.m. from the Winnetka Police Department’s Twitter account.  

In the tweet, the police said: “The Winnetka Campus was in lockdown. It was activated in error. More details to follow. All students are safe. Police have verified the campus is safe.”

When reached for comment, New Trier’s communications department was unable to provide immediate information; however, Superintendent Paul Sally sent an email to parents following the incident.

In the email message, Sally confirmed it was an error that lasted for approximately 15 minutes.

"Our students and staff responded extraordinarily well to the lockdown announcement," Sally says in the email. "They went to safe spaces and remained quiet while we worked as quickly as possible to determine that the campus was safe. We made an announcement at the end of the lockdown and released students to their next period class after it was over."

Sally acknowledged the lockdown was "a very stressful experience for our students, staff and parents," and thanked the police for responding.

New Trier officials will also be reviewing lockdown procedures to prevent this error going forward.

"We will be discussing this experience with students and staff to ensure they are feeling OK and to learn how to improve in the future," Sally added in the email. "Our social work staff, psychologists, and adviser chairs gathered in common areas to help students who were struggling following this incident and will be available for students next week. Thank you for your patience and partnership."

The high school’s annual LitFest was taking place Nov. 8 during the lockdown. Several of the presenters publicly tweeted regarding the lockdown.

“I’m at New Trier High School for their LitFest day and we are in a lockdown. Going on 15 minutes now, no info. Kids are amazing and brave,” author Rebecca Makkai said.

Another LitFest guest, Adam Morgan, the founding editor of Chicago Review of Books, confirmed the lockdown was the result of a staff member accidentally activating the lockdown alert.

“I'm at New Trier High School and the lockdown is over, the campus is ‘safe,’ but we've been told to stay in our rooms,” Morgan said. “These kids are braver than me.”