Code Yellow


I was sitting at a work lunch when my phone rang. My daughter’s school was calling. I thought it was the nurse’s office because that morning she said her stomach had been hurting. On the second ring my mind jumped to a very dark place. I thought her school was under attack. In the moment, that was all I could think of. I froze in my seat and missed answering the call. Moments later when I scrambled to listen to the voicemail I heard that her school had been put on lock-down. There was a code yellow. I don’t know what that means. I do know that I feared for my child’s safety.  

Code yellow

There was a questionable person spotted near the school. Everyone was moved inside. The police were called and arrived within minutes to handle the situation. For this, and the teachers and the administration, I am thankful. I know in this heightened state of affairs, everyone put the children’s safety first. That I have no doubt of. As I listened to the principal’s voice on the other end of the phone, she assured me that the situation had been handled, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that neither I, nor my daughter or anyone at the school, should be experiencing this kind of angst at a place they all should feel safe.

As the mom of a kindergartner I was annoyed with myself that I hadn’t taken the time to learn what all the color codes mean. However, it opened my eyes that I, too, had taken this place of learning for granted. Just like so many other people, I had the mindset that something bad could never happen at my daughter’s school. Not knowing where else to turn, I googled and found out that a “code yellow” is a situation in which students need to stay in their rooms with their teachers. Normal classroom activity continues. Often a code yellow is an incident that happens in the school office area. Students and staff remain in a code yellow until an “all clear” or additional instructions are given.”

The next day I asked another mom at work who has high school aged kids if this had happened to children before. Her response was, “Yeah, they happen about once a month.” I thought, “What?? Why?? Seriously??” I had so many unanswered questions, and still do.

I’m left wondering why this happens so often. I know this world isn’t perfect, but I can’t understand how people become numb to the fact that this instance is something minor compared to a much larger and more devastating issue in our country that directly effects those who are most precious in our world. I think about the impact it has on our students and their ability to learn. I think about older students who are more aware of the world around them. It hurts to think about how they feel seeing so much violence committed in schools across our country, and then being sent there daily in hopes of getting an education.

The code yellow that happened at my child’s school was minimal, but it was an eye opener that hit too close to home. Now, I’m looking for ways to take action to ensure my child, and yours, stay safe at school.  I’m looking to be a part of the solution. As a mom, please share what you do personally, as part of an organization or within your child’s school, to help your child feel and be safe at a place that for many serves as a second home.

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A South Carolina native, Erica is originally from the Upstate and has moved back to Charleston with her family after a 10 year, traffic-filled hiatus in Atlanta, GA. Having lived in only two states she likes to explore different cultures through travel and food.  Of all the hats Erica wears her most important roles are as a wife, mother, daughter and fundraiser for her alma mater, College of Charleston. She has been married to her college sweetheart for 13 years and together they have to kiddos that keep them on their toes.  She prides herself on being honest about motherhood and enjoys learning from other moms who tell it like it is. When life offers a little down time Erica enjoys wave jumping at the beach, unapologetically watching bad TV and organizing and re-organizing everything from the dishwasher to the sock drawers to help calm her inner OCD.