Eye of the Editors: School drills

School drill procedures should be adjusted so that students and staff take them more seriously and are better prepared

Students shuffle down the stairs to the grass field, chatting with their friends or doing their homework—it’s the evacuation drill. Although safety drills are implemented to prepare students and staff for emergency situations, the way that they are carried out is not effective. 

One factor that detracts from the drills’ intended purpose is the nonchalant attitudes of the students and teachers involved. Whenever there is a drill, some students are indifferent or only see the drill as a break from learning. Their lack of seriousness reaches the point where whenever there is a fire alarm, most students do not react with alarm or concern; they are more likely to feel annoyed or assume it is a false alarm. 

Announcing drills ahead of time also does not contribute to their efficacy. When the emergency practices are placed on the schedule for everyone to see, that takes away the unpredictability that is characteristic to situations where actual lockdowns or evacuations are needed. 

For instance, the drill that took place during brunch on Sept. 9 did not truly simulate what an actual lockdown might have been like, since many students knew there was a drill ahead of time. They had time to decide what to do before the long bell rang. In a real situation, students would not have time to buy a snack and then walk to their next class before the lockdown starts. 

The preparations do not have to be too drastic or realistic to be effective. It is unnecessary to have a fake active shooter on campus during an unannounced lockdown drill, which is what happened at West Babylon Junior High School in New York. This kind of drill can traumatize or psychologically harm students, which is the complete opposite of the drill’s purpose. 

Instead, we should have more unannounced safety drills that set scenarios very close to real emergency situations. Although the lockdown drill during second period on Aug. 30 was announced ahead of time, it was very similar to an actual lockdown: the lights were turned off, teachers and students hid away from the windows and tried to keep quiet and GLCs walked around campus, checking the classrooms’ door handles to see if the doors were locked. 

A possible solution to finding the balance between casual and traumatizing safety proceedings would be to inform students and staff of an unannounced drill a week before it occurs but not the specific time or day. 

When it does occur, teachers can inform them whether the drill is real or a practice drill after the students go to the classrooms. This allows the drill to be unpredictable, which can help students get a better idea of what to do in a real situation, and eliminates the possibility of students running off-campus out of fear to avoid potential danger. 

There is a need to make drills more useful without students and staff treating them too lightly or too seriously, and having unannounced drills will better prepare individuals for actual emergency situations.