Teachers unions want to rethink school lockdown drills

SPOKANE, Wash. — Your children have likely been through a lockdown drill.

More than 95 percent of schools in the U.S. practice what to do in the event of an active shooter. But, now the two largest teachers unions think schools shouldn’t have students involved in those drills.

The American Federation of Teachers and National Educators Association think these drills do more harm than good for students. Especially if they don’t know when to expect them. Sometimes schools around the nation will even try to make the drill seem like a reality, with actors lying on the ground, or officers bursting through hallways.

Schools in Spokane think that is just too much.

“We don’t need to go to the place of having those situations where we’ve got people running around buildings with guns or masks and doing fake blood,” Deer Park School District Superintendent Travis Hanson said.

Deer Park and Spokane School districts don’t agree with getting rid of drills entirely, though. In fact, a Washington State bill wouldn’t allow that.

The bill requires schools in the state to have at least one drill per month during the school year. That drill must teach students three functional responses: evacuation, lockdown and shelter in place.

The schools like to keep those drills relatively simple.

“We take a pretty conservative approach. We want to make sure staff and students are informed before we do any kind of shelter in place or evacuation drills so they know it’s coming,” said Brian Coddington of Spokane Public Schools.

A similar approach is done within Deer Park schools, and that’s why Hanson doesn’t think a change is necessary.

“I feel like we’ve found a really good balance,” Hanson said.

Prevention is becoming a bigger priority within Washington schools. Coddington said more resources are available to students these days regarding mental health.