Emergency Preparation in Schools

Caitlin Wright, Design Editor

Parents and guardians are unsure if public schools are actually doing enough to promote student safety in school emergencies through drills and education to prepare students.

Parents and guardians have recently been concerned about a lack of student emergency preparation. A report made in 2018 found that more than 25% of U.S. school districts lack comprehensive plans to respond to natural disasters, epidemic diseases, or other emergencies.A concern is that there are not enough drills performed in a year, and that there is not a wide enough variety of drills performed, even if the concern for that certain disaster to occur is not high in the area. Some schools have started performing drills as often as once a month whether it be a fire, earthquake, or lockdown drill. Others focus more on education and informing the students of how they should approach the situation rather than physically doing it in regard to the worry that not all students are taking the drills seriously and think of it more as time out of class. Several schools have even taken certain drills to the next step by making it a somewhat real experience; calling the police to come as they would and having someone represent a shooter or something of the sort when performing a lockdown drill.

Shaun Nielson, one of the school’s Assistant Principals that plays a major role in the planning and construction of the drills, thinks more could always be done but that what is done now is quite sufficient. “I think we could always do more, but we’re required by state law to do a specific number and that’s what we do,” Nielson said. Following with, “What we hope we do through these drills is to create enough awareness, especially in our teachers, so that if something like that emergency were to happen especially the teachers know right where to go and what to do.”

Stan Maeser, one of the school’s art teachers and head of KOLT News, thinks that students and faculty will never truly be completely prepared for any emergency because there is only so much you can do with drills to give people an idea of what they have to do. “I don’t think any of us really are prepared enough or could be prepared enough because if there was actually a fire, it is much more different than having a fire drill,” Maeser said, focusing more on the topic of fire drills.

Student Mya Turner agrees that it is very hard to replicate these emergencies but still thinks it’s important the district tries. “I think the school should definitely do more drills and a bigger variety of them too.” Turner said. Pointing out the fact that although it will not be the same it is better than teaching the students nothing when it comes to reacting in these situations.

Student Prasamsa Bastola agrees the school should perform more drills. “I think schools should do more drills, especially fire drills,” Bastola said. Explaining how a fire is much more likely than other emergencies to occur in the school, Bastola said, “I think they should do at least 4 fire drills here a year.”