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Teacher Unions Call for End to Active Shooter Drills

Drills can harm students' mental health, they say
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 13, 2020 4:53 AM CST
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In this Friday June 9, 2017 photo, students are led out of school as members of the Fountain Police Department take part in an Active Shooter Response Training exercise at Fountain Middle School in Fountain, Colo.   (Dougal Brownlie/The Gazette via AP, File)

(Newser) – The nation's two largest teachers' unions are calling for schools to revise or eliminate active shooter drills, saying they can harm students' mental health and that there are better ways to prepare for the possibility of a school shooting. The American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association joined with the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund in calling for an end to unannounced drills or drills that simulate gun violence, the AP reports. "Everywhere I travel, I hear from parents and educators about active shooter drills terrifying students, leaving them unable to concentrate in the classroom and unable to sleep at night," says Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association.

"So traumatizing students as we work to keep students safe from gun violence is not the answer," Garcia says. That is why if schools are going to do drills, they need to take steps to ensure the drills do more good than harm." The report released Tuesday recommends schools concentrate on training teachers to respond to an active shooter incident rather than drilling students. It also issued guidelines for schools that decide to use drills. Those include never simulating an actual shooting; giving parents, educators and students advance notice of any drill; working with mental health officials to create age-appropriate and trauma-informed drills; and tracking the effects of drills.

(Read more teachers stories.)

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