Evacuation Training: A Look Into American School Evacuation Plans (or lack thereof)

“Even with all of the school shootings reported, there are still so many left unreported. So many names that we’ll probably never know, so many people we’ll never get a chance to meet, so many lives cut short, so many destinies that will never be fulfilled and so many stories with chapters left unwritten.”

  • Anonymous

On Friday, October 9, 2015, I had the opportunity to attend a training for our school district’s Evacuation Plan and Procedures. It was very eye-opening and very sad, if I can be honest with you. Eye-opening because until that day I had not really thought much about this type of thing. I guess you could say that I, like many others, have been quite immune to living in a “safe” town, where not much really happens. So, when the thought of school shootings was presented to me, it definitely opened my eyes, and mind, to what “could be” someday. No one and no school is immune to a tragedy like a school shooting. A bullet has no name on it, as they say. And still I wonder how many people truly think about this when they send their children off to school (or anywhere for that matter).

Some of the most well-known school shootings, we’ve all heard of, began this revolution of evacuation planning in our nation’s schools however, up until recently many of our school administrators, etc. have not truly done their research to ensure that our children remained safe while in their “care”. I learned that majority of our schools, in America, have this “sitting duck” mentality and approach to school evacuations. In my district however, they are changing protocol and educating the teachers, staff, students and families that if God forbid a school shooting were to occur in our district, that there needs to be multiple options for escaping with our lives. Now, instead of being sitting ducks and hiding under tables or whatnot, our children and educators are being given the choice to run with their students or have the students escape if it is safe, they are implementing an announcement protocol and have even gone so far as to implement rally points and ways that students & teachers, who cannot escape, can still possibly survive this type of tragedy.

Even with all of the planning, it is still up to us, as parents and adults, to ensure that we educate ourselves and our children on the awful and scary things of this world. We trust educators enough to send our children to school to be taught by them and “watched” by them while we work or go to school or whatever, but we need to understand that they are flawed human beings, just like we are, and they don’t have all the answers and can and will make mistakes also, even when we need them to not make those mistakes. I think it’s time for us to take a stand and reach out to our Superintendents and Politicians and join PTAs and do whatever else we must do in order to ensure that ALL of our school districts are preparing for the day that we hope – and pray – never becomes a reality.

I urge you to think about this, to speak with your families – especially your children- about this, and to truly equip yourselves with your own district’s protocol and plans for this particular thing. You may find that everything is A-okay or you may find that things need to be reevaluated and new procedures need to be put in place. Visit your local school, Regional Office of Education or contact your Representatives and let’s start a movement to make our schools safer and our educators and students better prepared for the “what if’s” of this day and age.

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