Train school staff, not just students, to be prepared for emergencies.
One of the major objectives for diversifying school crisis drills is to train school staff to think on their feet just as much, if not more, than it is to train the students. But far too often, school administrators schedule fire, lockdown, and other drills based upon convenience rather than reality.
For example, principals nationwide schedule lockdown and fire drills to avoid disrupting lunch periods. This results in drills being conducted during hours which are skewed in the direction of before or after lunch times, but rarely during lunch periods.
While on the surface this type of scheduling may sound logical, from a school emergency preparedness standpoint it leaves a huge gap of time during the school day for which school leaders are not preparing their students and staff for an emergency. In many of our nation’s schools, lunch periods run from 10:15am to 1:30pm, which accounts for almost half of the entire school day.
Five ways school administrators and safety staff can diversify school crisis drills include:
- Conduct fire and lockdown drills during lunch periods, in addition to before and after lunch.
- Block an exit (unannounced) and tell exiting students and teachers they cannot use that particular exit during a fire drill.
- Remove a student or two from their groups during a fire or lockdown drill to see how long it would take for staff to notice and act.
- Similar to #3, remove a staff member (unannounced) from his/her group of students.
- Conduct lockdown drills as students arrive in the morning or around dismissal time. Identify unique issues which arise in the effective management of drills during these times.
We discuss these and a number of other ways to diversify school crisis drills. The majority of principals and other administrators typically have not tried a great deal of drill diversification. But most see the value in doing so and many go back to their schools after our workshops and tweak their drilling processes.
Are your schools preparing for reality or for convenience?
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