Are Lockdowns The Best Defense In Schools?
I’m still waiting for Texas State and others to finish investigating the most recent shooting as I’ve not seen any mention of the school operating under lockdown. I’ve worked as a teacher for over 20 years and in those 20 years, the schools would practice lockdowns about two times a year.
The procedure was simple. When the announcement came via PA or group text, or walkie talkie, teachers would lock the doors, grab any students in the hallway, bring them into their rooms, cover the window in the door, move kids to a corner as far away as possible from the door, and keep them quiet until the practice concluded.
For the most part, the call would come out, we’d run through everything, and then it was over but there were a few times, the practice went on for a much longer period of time. After it was over, we’d find out that some drunk was running through the area with a gun and we’d be locked down till the police arrested them.
Over time, I’ve read that there were more things we could have done. We should have been piling things in front of the door so if the shooter got through the door, he’d face a barricade designed to make it harder to get in the room. According to information that came out after the Sandy Hook shooting, a shooter was less likely to continue into the room if they faced a bunch of stuff in their way.
In addition, teachers should be regularly trained in what to do should there be an active shooter in the building. It’s a process where you get the kids out of the building if you can, otherwise hide in the room. For years, I fought to get a rope ladder in my room so if I had to evacuate my students through a window, I could do it but the administration would never allow it. They said going out the doors was fine.
In all my years of teaching, only one administrator went through the school, trying doors here and there, demanding to be let in. If he was let in, he told the class they were dead because you don’t know if the person on the other side has a gun to his or her head. He said “Never open the door”.
According to the latest information, the shooter spent time outside the school shooting at people. Under normal circumstances, these people would have called it in to the police and they in turn should have notified the school to go into a lock down. If anyone at school had heard the shots, they should have reported it to the administration so they could order a lockdown.
Since the shooter got into a classroom, I’m wondering if the school didn’t bother announcing a lockdown or at least direct teachers to lock their doors. If the doors were locked it might have prevented the deaths. I don’t understand how he got as far as he did. There were events indicating danger was in the area.
Furthermore, most schools have multiple doors that are kept locked. The only doors that have ever been unlocked are the main ones at the front so if anyone comes in, they can be seen. So if the shooter got in through a side door, why was it unlocked? There are just too many questions that arise from the situation.
I can tell you the politicians idea of arming teachers with guns is not going to help. For one thing, many teachers including myself do not like guns and would hesitate to use it. Secondly, it could give someone false confidence and they might run out to intercept the shooter and get them selves killed.
What about all the possible legal ramifications arising from this idea. Could the shooters family sue the school and the teacher for wrongful death? Would the school district provide the counseling necessary for the teacher if they did kill someone?
I believe lockdowns can be effective but not as I’ve practiced them. The procedure needs to be expanded to make it more difficult for shooters to get into rooms. Schools need to have a plan to get students out of the building even if it means teachers have to break windows to get them out. Schools should start placing some sort of rollup shade above the windows in classroom doors so teachers can just pull it down rather than having to take time to tape paper over it.
There should be a way for teachers to communicate with each other and the administration so they know where the shooter is and so teachers are able to know if they can take their kids out the doors or if they need to go out a window or stay put. Most schools have cameras, so use those to help track the shooter and relay the info to the police department.
In other words, most schools need a more thorough plan, better communications, and a way to get students out if they can. If there is an in-depth plan, I believe lockdowns can be extremely effective and save lives in most situations.
My opinion is based on the drills run in one state. I don’t know what rules other states follow or procedures they have in place. Let me know what you think.