District Administration October 2017 - 46

SOLVING A

SAFETY DILEMMA
office [pretending I had] a bullet wound
to my head."
The drills exposed some weak points
in the emergency plan. So, with funds
from a district bond measure, McGregor
installed more security cameras in front of
the building and two large screen monitors in the front office to enable staff to see
everyone who enters the building. Visitors
had been able to enter the school without
going through the office.
"Timing is everything, and we always
talk about that during our regular lockdown drills," he says. "How quickly can
we respond in any given scenario to get
the school safe?"
Across the country, schools are weighing the pros and cons of practicing
worst-case scenario drills without unduly
traumatizing students, staff and the community. Some districts conduct active
drills with the entire school while others
involve emergency responders and a small
group of students and staff. A third group
thinks it's best to discuss critical thinking
skills and make a plan rather than walk
through a full scenario.
They all agree on one aspect, though-
these conversations and preparations ensure the drills become an effective part of a

LESSONS LEARNED-Police debrief after the active shooter drill at Red Land
High School. The school follows the "Run. Hide. Fight." philosophy to teach
students and staff to think critically during an emergency.

school's overall safety strategy.
Guardians at the grassroots
At Red Land High School in Lewisberry,
Pennsylvania, students, teachers and staff
planned for more than a year before they
conducted an active shooter drill with
fake victims and two actors who used fake
revolvers loaded with blanks. With her

school located across the Susquehanna
River from the Three Mile Island nuclear
plant, Principal Holly Sayre designed the
drill to serve for more than a violent intruder. She wanted the school of 1,200
students to also be ready for other emergencies, such as a radiation leak or extreme weather disasters.
Sayre knew her students needed to de-

Learning from lockdown drills
Lockdown drills can pose health hazards, says Dennis Lewis,
president of Edu-Safe, a safety training firm. Lewis, who
spent 17 years as the public safety director for Springfield
Public Schools in Missouri, shares the following best
practices:
Connect instruction to safety. Rigid, step-by-step drills
don't encourage critical thinking, discussion or variations.
Educators can develop lessons that, for example, encourage
students to think about wider safety issues and teamwork.
Start with a discussion. Educators should first talk through
the drill with students and then practice so they feel prepared
when the exercise is conducted with a stopwatch.
Create age-appropriate plans. Elementary students may not
need a full drill with fake blood, loud noises and dramatic

46 October 2017

acting. But as students grow older, they should hear
messages about bullying, harassment and the need to pitch
in during potentially harmful situations.
Offer mental health treatment. Have psychologists and
counselors ready. Law enforcement, military and hospital
workers train for traumatic situations. Teachers, school staff
and students, however, aren't regularly prepared for the
stress that these drills may create.
Use analogies to spur critical thinking. At 30,000 feet in the
air, a pilot doesn't own an airplane and he's not the president
of the airline, but he's ultimately in charge of the safety of the
passengers. Similarly, Lewis reminds teachers they are the
captains of their classrooms and responsible for the safety
of their students. So, they must think about the best ways to
"Run. Hide. Fight."

District Administration



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration October 2017

District Administration October 2017 - Cover1
District Administration October 2017 - Cover2
District Administration October 2017 - 1
District Administration October 2017 - 2
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