In what is presented as an effort to mentally prepare students and faculty alike on how to react to an active shooter on campus, “certain schools” located in Oregon, Florida, and New Jersey have adopted “unannounced active-shooter drills.”
At one middle school in Florida in November 2014 such a drill included “two gunmen [barreling] down the school’s hallway with a pistol and AR-15.”
The Atlantic reports that the “gunmen” turned out to be local police officers who were screaming “This is a drill!”, but the sight of the of the weapons contributed to frightening many students into texting their parents to say “they feared for their lives.” ABC News reported that one of the officers portraying a gunman “came into a classroom…with an assault rifle.”
According to The Atlantic, these and other similar drills are part of new-is-good, but newer-is-better mentality where some schools believe the value of announced active-shooter drills is heightened by taking students and faculty by surprise.
But those who have witnessed students’ hysteria in reaction to drills or actual emergencies believe putting students through unannounced drills may be step too far.
Case in point–after receiving reports of “a student carrying a suspected weapon,” police issued a “Code Red” emergency protocol for New Jersey’s Columbia High School. In response, a 14-year-old student said some of her “friends were put in a stage door closet…[while] others were stuck in cabinets or the bathroom.” In testimony to the anxiety of it all she said, “They prepare us, but nothing is like the actual scenario.”
“The weapon turned out to be brass knuckles,” but the students were so rattled by the protocol of the response that school principal Elizabeth Aaron said she “does not intend to rehearse the scene for the sake of theatrics.” Nevertheless, according to NorthJersey.com, New Jersey state safety officials can carry out “unannounced visits” to check a school’s lockdown preparedness at any time.
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