How do Palm Beach County, Treasure Coast school districts classify lockdowns?

WPTV examines how each local district responds to incidents on, off campus
Police respond to Jupiter Community High School on Dec. 8, 2022 for a medical emergency involving a student, the School District of Palm Beach County says (3).jpg
Posted at 12:36 PM, Feb 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-17 17:50:29-05

School lockdowns happen frequently throughout South Florida and the Treasure Coast, but many public school districts use varying terminology when it comes to lockdowns.

WPTV contacted each of the five districts in the viewing area about how they classify lockdowns.


Code red: Used for an imminent threat on a school campus. Learning stops, all interior and exterior doors are locked, everyone goes to their safe place, and no one is allowed in or out of any buildings or classrooms.

Code yellow: Used for off campus law enforcement activity. The school campus is still locked down, but limited movement is allowed, and learning and classroom activities continue.

Code green: All clear and normal school operations can resume.

In all cases, the School District of Palm Beach County will communicate updates to parents by phone.

"It's important that you listen to the entire message before calling the school," school district Police Chief Sarah Mooney said in a video released at the start of the 2022-23 academic year.

Mooney said district staff members and students participate in numerous security drills throughout the year.

"As a parent, it's important that you have discussions with your child about the significance of following instructions and listening to what their teacher instructs them to do as safety measures," Mooney said.

The police chief advised parents to not pick your children up during a lockdown, unless the school says otherwise, as it may compromise safety and the investigation.

"I urge you to follow the instructions that the district will share with you during phone updates," Mooney said. "Remaining calm during these situations and allowing the trained professionals to utilize their experience to address a potential emergency will contribute to the safest resolution."



Lockdown: All interior and exterior doors on campus are locked, classroom lights are turned off, staff members and students must move away from sight and maintain silence, and all learning stops.

Lockout: Exterior doors on campus are locked, everyone must come inside school buildings, but learning can continue and it's "business as usual" inside, according to the Martin County School District's website.

The Martin County School District follows the K-12 Standard Response Protocol, a set of school security guidelines used around the country.

WATCH: Martin County School District stays ahead of the curve with campus security

Martin County School District stays ahead of the curve with campus security


Code red: This is classified as an "active shooter lockdown," according to Lydia Martin, the chief communications officer for St. Lucie Public Schools. All interior and exterior doors must be locked and learning stops. No one is allowed in or out of any buildings on campus.

Code yellow: Precautionary code with limited movement on campus, according to Martin. Classroom instruction continues and students can move from class to class and lunch.


The School District of Indian River County also uses a code red and code yellow lockdown system, according to Cristen Maddux, the district's public information officer.

However, Maddux wouldn't get into specifics about the codes, saying in an email to WPTV the school district's "security plan is confidential and not shared with the public."

Maddux did, however, confirm that, in the event of a school lockdown, a recorded call is sent to parents through School Messenger, a communication platform the district uses.

"Depending on the situation, we also may post to social media," Maddux said.

Maddux added that parents are familiar with the different codes from speaking with their children.

"When we say a code red or code yellow, they know what is going on," Maddux told WPTV via email. "Typically, we explain why the code has occurred (non-school-related disturbance in the area, etc.). Thankfully, the majority of our codes are code yellow, which is more of a precautionary code due to something going on in the near vicinity of the school."


The Okeechobee County School District would not disclose specific details about its lockdown procedures to WPTV.

"I'm not comfortable releasing that information. It's part of our emergency plan: not a public document," said Dylan Tedders, the assistant superintendent for administrative services, in an email to WPTV.

Tedders did, however, confirm that schools have a "direct mode to communicate directly with parents in the student database system" and also provide updates on social media to notify the school community.

"If it's a major incident: the sheriff department and school district will coordinate and put out a message to update parents and the community," Tedders said.