When I envisioned my time in the classroom, I never imagined having to sit through a forum with a local police chief being told what to do in the case of a mass shooting. I never imagined being told that for the few minutes before their teams can arrive on campus, we are on our own. Because of the tragedies that have taken place in schools across the United States in recent years, school teams and districts have begun creating safety plans to be prepared for shootings on campus. Additionally, the federal government has also created a Commission, which is tasked with presenting recommendations to further the safety of our students. The Federal Commission on School Safety, made up of four members of the cabinet and led by Secretary Betsy DeVos, unveiled its new report earlier this month. The New York Times recently published an article on the matter and stated that the report focused, “on rescinding Obama-era disciplinary policies, improving mental health services and training school personnel in the use of firearms.”
The Commission was formed in response to the shooting at the Stoneman High School shooting in Parkland, Florida last February. It was expected that the members would investigate and come up with best practices to inform the safety plans of all schools. The recommendations of the Commission are not a “one size fits all” solution. Instead, local municipalities and school districts have begun assessing their own risks and preparing emergency procedures in the event of such a tragedy. Frank Quiambao, founder and director of the National Education Safety and Security Institute, recommended for school leaders to conduct “vulnerability assessments” in a recent interview with Education Dive. He also recommended that teachers accept the idea of having emergency kits in classrooms to allow staff to treat “battlefield wounds” and serve as first responders until local emergency personnel arrives.
The thought of having to care for my students’ wounds is terrifying and unimaginable. Also, the fact that Trump expects my training in the use of firearms is repulsive. Guns in the classroom will not make my students safer. However, while the policy is improved to better support the safety of our students, we cannot sit around and be unprepared. Our students are sitting in classrooms worried and wondering about the outcomes of events they hear about or see on the news. These events are preventable and until policy catches up, we need to continue educating ourselves and being prepared.
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