Let’s face it, state mandates for school drills and safety plans are here to stay. And, honestly, does anyone really think it’s a bad thing? Norwood Superintendent Rob Amodio, in a follow up report from WCPO Cincinnati I-Team states, “I can get into the redundancy of all the new reporting, which is kind of a boilerplate. But if at the end of the day that’s the biggest complaint I have, that’s a minor issue,” he said, adding, “I’m never going to complain about efforts to improve school security.”
With the FEMA-based template, schools are able to leverage the knowledge of numerous experts to create a comprehensive safety plan. However, this does not make the school safe. The process of creating the plan certainly requires administrators to address and document a host of safety-related information including the procedures to be followed in various types of emergencies. But, the act of determining emergency procedures is only the beginning. The plan must be put into action in order for it to be of any value.
The way to put a safety plan into action is through drills. Nearly all states establish specific requirements as to the type, quantity and timing of drills throughout the school year. The number of drills required is plentiful and scheduling and planning them can be challenging. However, the purpose of the drills is to practice your plan. It’s quite unlikely the football coach or the director of the school play is going to skip all practices and just “wing it” at the big game or opening night. Yet, it seems we’re going to “wing it” when it comes to the safety of students and staff.
Of course, this is not the case everywhere, but it may be more prevalent than we realize. Both Ohio and Tennessee were recently “featured” in regional news stories underscoring the lack of adherence to drill requirements. Perhaps part of the problem is administrators, staff and students feel like drills are ineffective because they’re all just going through the motions. Maybe everyone has been through “enough” drills and we know the procedures by now.