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UC High Attempts to Prepare Students with Lockdown and Active Shooter Drills

Daniella Jurado, Staff Writer

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   On March 21, the students and staff at UC High carried out two lockdown drills in an effort to prepare students in the event of a real emergency on campus.

   The first drill occurred during second period and the second during the passing period between third and fourth period. Schools across the country are conducting more of these lock down drills and active shooter drills because of the increasing number of school shootings.

   According to the ALICE Training Institute, the difference between a lockdown drill and an active shooter drill is the purpose of the drill. Lockdown drills encompass a wider range of events including weather-related instances or hazardous chemicals. An active shooter drill falls under this term and is specific to an individual with a firearm on school grounds (alicetraining.com).

   According to Vox Politics and Policy Reporter Alexia Fernandez Campbell, UC High is not the only high school practicing. As Campbell explained, “Lawmakers in New York are considering a bill that would require all school emergency drills to include mass shooting scenarios. South Carolina lawmakers are considering a bill to require schools to carry out active-shooter drills every single month. Last week, Florida passed a school safety law that requires schools to conduct mass shooting drills twice a year.” Also, “…six states require specific ‘active shooter’ drills each year” (vox.com).

   According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nine out of ten public schools drill students and teachers to respond to mass shootings (nces.ed.gov).

   Many feel that these mass shootings such as the ones at Columbine High, Sandy Hook Elementary, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High have become “the new normal” and schools are faced with no other option than to prepare students for a real possibility. Senior Ely Sanchez said, “I understand why we’re doing the drills but we shouldn’t be practicing for a tragedy that might happen, we should be preventing it.”

   Safety training companies, such as the ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) Institute, regularly stage fake shootings as part of their training programs for schools (vox.com).

   UC High’s lockdown drills about a month ago were planned and students were notified of what was going to happen. However, there seemed to be some confusion amongst students relating to both drills. Senior Katrina Berge said, “I think they could’ve been better organized and clear directions should’ve been given because I know different classes were doing different things.”

   One common point of confusion during the first drill was whether it was a simulation drill where students would go through the procedures of a lockdown or whether it was a time for teachers to talk about lockdowns and what students are supposed to do during a lockdown drill. Berge believes that with a little more instruction, the drills will go a lot more smoothly.

   According to the official website of the Office of the State Fire Marshall, during a lockdown drill, everyone inside classes is to stay where they are and classroom teachers are to quickly glance outside their rooms to direct any students or staff members in the hall into their rooms immediately. They are then to lock their doors, lower or close any blinds, place students against the walls (so that the intruder cannot see them when looking in the windows), look for a ‘Safe Corner,’ turn out lights and computer monitors, and keep students quiet (osfm.fire.ca.gov).

   The same website explains, “[During a real situation, students must] stay in safe areas until directed by law enforcement officers or an administrator to move or evacuate” (osfm.fire.ca.gov).

   Sanchez added that he thinks school administrators or teachers should go over the different drill bells and which one is for lockdown drills.

    In an effort to have a more organized drill, a second active shooter drill was planned on Tuesday, April 17. Students were informed of the day, but not the time. However, due to an issue with the bells on Monday, April 16, students were surprised with a drill during the end of lunch. Because of the quick reactions and acts of UC High students and staff, the drill that was scheduled for Tuesday was cancelled.

   Junior Jessica Rivera explained, “The lock down drills have been going pretty well for the most part, in my experience. I think we just need to assume that there is an actual safety threat when we hear those bells instead of disregarding it because it is ‘just a drill.’”

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UC High Attempts to Prepare Students with Lockdown and Active Shooter Drills