It’s a typical day in classrooms across America. Students turn in last night’s homework, take their seats, open their notebooks, and settle in for a lesson in handwriting. Or calculating the diameter of a circle. Or avoiding being shot by a madman.
Schools from elementary to high school are now putting students through “lockdown drills” to rehearse what to do if someone starts shooting up the campus. Some have been practicing like this since Columbine; others only began after the Sandy Hook school massacre in December.
The drills usually begin with a loudspeaker announcement from the principal, after which teachers lock and/or barricade their classroom doors, close any blinds, and instruct their students to huddle in a corner and remain absolutely silent for 10, 15, or even 30 minutes. Sometimes staff members bang threateningly on classroom doors or fire blanks in the hall to add realism. One school had students lay down “dead” with fake blood.
“I cried the first time my son came home and told me about these,” says a friend of mine. “They told him, ‘If you’re in the bathroom or hall when the classroom doors are locked, find somewhere else to hide because the teachers won’t let you in.’ He was 9.”