“Duck and cover” makes a comeback.

duck-n-cover-280.jpg    "Across the country, many schools hold lockdown drills because of terrorism fears and school shootings like the one at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999 that left 15 people dead. But Minnesota could apparently become the first state to require such exercises."

But not everybody thinks this is such a good idea.

"In Michigan, fire agencies have come out against a lockdown drill plan because it allows schools to cut back on fire drills. The state's Association of Secondary School Principals has concerns of its own….

"You are actually teaching the robbers how to rob the bank," said executive director Jim Ballard. "Most violent crime within schools has been student against student. If you're teaching those students what you are going to do in your lockdown procedures, they basically know what's going to happen."

I tend to agree.  I think that teachers and staff members should know the protocol, and should somehow receive professional development to prepare for this type of scenario.  I'm not sure how much good – or potential harm – comes from actually trying to "practice" this.  I'm torn. 

One of my earliest memories of school (early 1960s, now) involves practicing the old "duck and cover" drill in my kindergarten classroom.  Leave your desk, go out in the hall, crouch down on the floor, tuck down, and turtle up.  "And kiss your sweet a#@ goodbye," as a poster from the time used to say.  It was postively traumatic.  And useless.  Living within fiteen minutes of Philadelphia, with its naval base (at the time), a nuclear strike would have left us as less than a memory.  The Powers That Were did do a very good job of scaring the bejesus out of a generation of little kids, though.

My school district now has a "lockdown" procedure, and we have a policy to practice it at least once a year.  It's April.  Late April.  We have not practiced it yet.  Because of a huge wave of retirements last year, we have a large number of new staff members in our buildings.  They don't know what they're supposed to do, I'll bet.

They will have a mess to clean up, however.  The last time we practiced, we managed to make a significant number of kids very upset.  A number of kids cried during the drill (I teach middle school, remember).  A few complained of nightmares afterwards.

I'd be curious to hear from other teachers on this subject.  Do you do this?  What do you do, exactly?  And most importantly, do you think these drills have value?

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1 comment so far

  1. Smithie on

    At each of the schools in which I have taught (high school and middle school)we had/have such drills. At both places “lock down” is also used for drug searches when K-9 units were brought through the building.
    Once we had a report of a possible firearm in the (middle)school. The kids knew the drill and I think were much calmer than they may have been because the procedure was somewhat familiar. I think the teachers were more concerned than the students and it helped to not have to worry about panicking kids while we waited for information. (The report was false but not a hoax, students really thought they had seen a gun)
    However, I can see the point of not allowing the students in on the procedure as long as the teachers are well drilled and can look like they know what they are doing in the event of a real emergency.


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