Some of the reporting here in Oz about the tragic events in Newtown are including a statement that the teachers and students of the school followed their ‘Gunman Drill’. Intimating that many/all schools in the US have and practice a drill in case of a gunman, much like I’d expect a fire drill to be practiced from time to time.
Anyone know if that’s true? Or a bit of media sensationalism?
At my school, you didn’t need to drill it. Someone would eventually get on campus unregistered at least once during the year, and the place will go on lockdown, as said person might be a crazed killer.
But, yeah, we had such a drill. and ran it I’d say twice a year.
The closest thing we had in my school days was a “lockdown” drill where nobody was permitted to leave the classroom and we were to keep our heads below window-level (which was much easier in some rooms since they only had little slits of windows up by the ceiling). It was only enacted once during my entire school career.
My high school did a lockdown drill once during my senior year (it was during a renewed panic about school safety, I think after the Amish school shooting). My classroom failed by falling for a fake all clear announcement over the PA. (It’s not like we were actually locked down anyways. The class I was in had a sub that day, so the principal had to come and lock the door in advance of the drill.) We just sat on the floor in the corner failing to take the situation seriously at all.
Teachers also had to cover all the internal windows in dark paper that year, as if we were expecting the Blitz.
Schools in New York City have instituted new protocols this year - Hard and Soft Lockdowns. In a Hard Lockdown, we are to assume that an intruder is in the building - we lock the doors, stay away from windows, turn off lights, and huddle in a corner. Soft Lockdowns are when there is a threat outside the building. The perimeter of the school is supposedly secured, we lock our doors, but teaching can still go on.
The entire staff at my school had to watch a video just this September, done in a sensationalist movie format - it showed a young gunman entering a school, shooting a teacher in the bathroom, other teachers locking their doors and hiding with children in a corner of their room. It was truly terrifying to watch.
I teach Pre-K, and the horror is just unimaginable. I don’t know what to say to my little ones on Monday - every channel in New York seems to be 24 hour coverage of the tragedy (Manhattan is about 60 miles from Newtown). I’m just going to hug every one of them, as I imagine all parents are doing right now.
I’m sure we’re going to have more drills in the coming weeks.
My daughter is in first grade and at some point in her first week she was telling me they did a ‘hard lockdown drill’. When I asked her what that was, she said the teacher closed the door, turned off the lights and they had to stand against the wall and be very quiet.
It seemed pretty clear that they were preparing for an active shooter situation. Get them all up against the wall with the door looked and a gunman in the hall is going to have a much harder time hitting people.
When I was in high school (94-98) they did drills for 'someone is in the building that shouldn’t be in the building" but the school shooting things hadn’t started yet. The drills were so rare, we never really did know if it was for real. I think in my four years, they did two or three times. Someone would come on the PA and tell the teachers that the locksmith needs to check the locks and would everyone please close and lock their doors until he comes around to unlock them. Beyond that, everything was normal. The kids didn’t know anything was going on. If you didn’t know that was code for something, you’d honestly think the locks were being checked. The teacher locked the door, went on teaching and a half hour later someone unlocked it, no big deal. But of course, it was a drill, I’m sure they started unlocking them as soon as they told them to lock them. Had to get them all opened by the end of class.
Now I’m kind of wondering if they went on the PA and told them it was OK to open them just to see if anyone opened their doors on their own.
In New Jersey lockdown drills are legally required. But they are not specifically for shootings. They are a few types of lockdowns. They either have to shelter in place or they could be restricted to the building but allowed to move around inside. It’s used for anything from active shooters to natural disasters to hazmat spills.
The one year I taught we actually had two: an intruder drill, where we locked the doors and hid away from any sightlines, and a lockdown drill where we simply locked the door and weren’t allowed out until given the all clear. The second was supposed to be in the event of something like a toxic spill. I suspect it was relatively unique to our school; we were a California style school (no hallways, classrooms open directly outside), rather unusual for Missouri. I think the other school I taught at (I traveled). where they had indoor hallways, they did not do the lockdown drill.
We don’t have them here. None of the six schools I’ve worked in have had any such drill or even a written procedure, nor do I remember anything similar from my own time at school despite attending military primary schools during the IRA days. I’ve never heard of any school that did have such a procedure.
I realise you’re not asking about the UK, I just thought you might be interested.