TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Forty nine students die due to violence in schools every year, however, they are 1,600 times safer in a school than they are out in the public, according to the Kansas State Department of Education.
Schools across the state are teaching students active assailant drills to teach them skills and prepare them for a situation that could happen anywhere.
“If we take the time and talk to our students about ‘hey, this is what’s going to happen, this is what we’re going to do,’ and we use age-appropriate words and really use trauma-informed drills at our schools we need to teach that, not because it’s imminent danger inside our schools but because there’s a greater possibility of something going on outside the school,” said John Calvert, School Safety Specialist for the Kansas State Department of Education.
Senate Bill 128 requires every school in the state to do at least three crisis drills per year, one being an active assailant drill.
These drills help the students understand what to do if they are in a classroom, hallway, bathroom, or outside of the school and an active assailant is outside or inside the building.
It is up to the individual school districts how they perform the drills, although many schools use the Run, Hide, Fight training and Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate (ALICE).
These trainings teach these children skills they can use inside and outside of school, similar to math and English, according to Calvert.
“We lose 522 kids on average due to violent events in restaurants,” Calvert said. “But I’ve never done a lockdown drill at a Buffalo Wild Wings, I’ve never had to look over the crisis plan of an Applebee’s.”
These drills do scare the students at first, although they are not as traumatizing as others that involve first responders, actors, and even fake guns. Calvert said it is important students do experience the trauma so they can react if in the situation.
The drills the students perform typically involve turning the lights off, locking the door, gathering in a corner where they are not visible from windows, and having something in their hands that could be used as a weapon if the assailant were to enter the classroom.
If a student is outside of a classroom or even the building, they are told to try to get to a classroom or to run away from the school.
Calvert said it is also important to make sure to answer the students’ questions they may have after the drill, to ensure they understand what to do.