Margaret Fram’s 5-year-old daughter already knows what to do if there is an active shooter at her school. She’s participated in six emergency drills this year.
She did so from the comfort – or, at least, within the confines – of her New Jersey home. While the school has reopened for in-person classes, the family opted to stick with distance learning for the rest of the semester.
While discussions about school safety have been dominated by the coronavirus over the past year, the reopening of more schools and two recent mass shootings that killed 18 people are reminding parents of a threat that had momentarily receded from their list of fears: school massacres.
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And here’s an even more chilling thought: Experts worry that schools may be more vulnerable to violent attacks than they were before the pandemic. That’s because underlying factors — including gun-related deaths and reports of mental health concerns among youths — were only getting worse.
Active shooter drills — required in roughly 40 states — may only make matters worse, with scant evidence of their effectiveness and growing concern of the traumatizing effect they may have on the children they’re intended to keep safe.
Fram recalled observing a drill alongside her daughter, whose teacher captured the event in real-time through her iPad. The lights went off and everything went still….