Schools have long staged classroom drills to prepare students for responding to fires, tornados and other natural disasters.
Now the Yakima School District is holding drills for another kind of crisis: violence.
District schools have been holding “lockdown” drills to prepare for situations that might endanger students’ lives, such as violent intruders entering the schools, said Gene Rostvold, district coordinator of safety and security.
“We aren’t doing this because our schools are unsafe,” Rostvold said. “Our schools are safe. And it’s not something just the Yakima School District is doing - schools are doing it across the country.”
The drills begin with a special bell.
Students already in classrooms are required to stay there, where teachers can lock doors, pull down shades and take other actions to secure the room. Students elsewhere go to designated classrooms or other areas.
Students are told to remain quiet and additional instructions are given over the school’s public-address system. Designated emergencyresponse teams at each school may lock outside doors and patrol the area.
The drills were established because “we wanted to be proactive. We don’t want to sit back and not make sure schools are safe, and then have to be reactive,” Rostvold said.
“There’s a lot of violence in our society, and there’s a chance that that could spill over into our schools,” he said.
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