With Labor Day now behind us, many school systems in Maryland are coming back into session. One significant school safety concern that wasn’t as prominent in the past has to do with school shootings. In response, many schools have made active shooter drills as high a priority as rehearsing fire drills. Here are some of the top concerns when it comes to these situations in other states that have experienced high-profile shootings recently.
Schools in Pennsylvania
One of the most critical and lingering questions about active shooter drills is how they affect the mental health of everyone who must take part in them. After all, these drills, while necessary, can disrupt the school’s intentions of creating a safe space to learn and focus on education in all its many aspects. In 2018, the state revised its educational codes so that every school within its borders are required to conduct an active shooter drill within the first three months of the new school year. The training mandated by new state laws goes beyond standard lockdown procedures and helps everyone practice what they should do in case an actual active shooter enters school grounds. Unfortunately, not much research exists when it comes to how this impacts students and teachers alike. The training videos alone can increase feelings of fear and unease, and because mental health training is such a complex topic, it can be hard to account for every factor that can impact it. It’s also entirely possible that seeing training videos can inspire further acts of violence, which is a valid fear given the current national societal climate.
Schools in Florida
Meanwhile, let’s look at how these drills are run in Florida. For one thing, emotional health education is something that is required of every school in the state. An active shooter drill must also be held at least once a month in every grade level from K-12. Fire and tornado drills happen often but are scaled down to help younger students understand what is happening and feel safer. This is something that all school administrators need to consider all across the country. Training in any form is valuable because it shows students and faculty how to respond instead of adding to the tragedy because no one knew what to do without active shooter drills.
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