Why Do We Have Lockdown Drills?

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Tessa Stimatze

The clock and alert system in every classroom at Rocky Mountain High School announces lockdowns.

Tessa Stimatze, Editor

In the American school system, lockdown drills are a common safety training staff and students practice regularly. Schools all over the US initiated drills more frequently after the Columbine shooting in 1999 when two students at Columbine High School murdered 12 students and one teacher on April 20, 1999.

 

According to Education Week, in 2021 there were 34 school shootings, 14 people were killed, and another 54 injured. On November 30, 2021, Ethan Crumbley, a sophomore at Oxford High School in Michigan killed four students and injured another seven, including a teacher–the deadliest since the Santa Fe High School shooting where 10 people were killed and another 13 injured.

 

Rocky Mountain High School practices these lockdown drills every semester. In each classroom, there is a colored wall. These walls are designated so students know where to go during a lockdown drill or an actual lockdown. 

 

If a student is not in a classroom at the time of a lockdown or drill they should find a place to hide quickly. Doors will close automatically when the drills start if not already closed. 

 

Run, hide, fight is the practiced training used at Rocky. Locks, Lights, out of sight is another common training technique used in schools and is the refrain announced on the intercom. These trainings encourage students and staff to find a safe place where they cannot be seen and to fight if necessary.

 

Drills at Rocky usually last roughly five minutes and students are warned before these drills to reduce any panic or anxiety these drills might cause. While drills are in progress, students are encouraged to stay silent and off any devices to ensure no attention is brought to them or their classmates. Safety is Rocky Mountain High School’s number one concern.

 

When surveyed about lockdown drills, 32 of the 34 Rocky students responded that lockdown drills are effective. Two said they were not. 

 

Students believed lockdowns were effective, however,  if students choose not to take the drill seriously then they do become ineffective. Respondents explained that during drills students mess around on their phones, laugh, talk to one another, and overall causing disruption to the drill.

 

Lockdown drills are designed for ensuring student and staff safety. While, realistically, school shootings are a rare occurrence, the concern is real. 

Drills may induce stress and anxiety, but it’s better to be prepared than not. The National Association of School Psychologists states on their website that  “Lockdowns can save lives and are considered best practice in crisis response.” (Link)