Children spend almost a third of their day at school on a school day. Add in sports and extra-curriculars for the older grades, and some students spend more than half of their waking hours at school on a school day. With schools being the primary place children spend their time, isn’t it crucial that these are safe places where parents, students, faculty, and staff feel secure and are prepared for possible emergencies?
Any child in school, right down to little ones in preschool, will have drilled a fire evacuation plan at some point in the school year. Fire evacuation plans are vital, but a school’s emergency plans should not stop there. The unfortunate fact is that youth violence and school violence are real features of today’s world. While active shooter events at schools like Sandy Hook, Columbine, Umpqua Community College, and Virginia Tech are routinely sensationalized by the new media, the truth is that school associated violent deaths are rare. With that said, school violence that includes things like threats, attacks, fighting, bullying, and weapons on campus is a serious issue that schools need to address and mitigate. And while school associated violent deaths are rare, it behooves school administrators to have an Emergency Action Plan in place for the unthinkable scenario that an active shooter does enter the school or campus. Schools should have an Emergency Action Plan that includes lockdown procedures, evacuation procedures, off-site mustering procedures, and emergency names and numbers. Most importantly, an Emergency Action Plan should be drilled regularly.
If you are a parent of a child in private school, ask your school’s administration if there is an Emergency Action Plan in place. If your child is in a public school, you too have the right make your voice heard and advocate for a safer school. Don’t assume an Emergency Action Plan is in place – ask about it and advocate for it on behalf of your children and their teachers.