Lockdown Drills: Students and Administrators Don’t Take Them Seriously Enough

Grace Lee

Panic. Fright. Terror. Three words that don’t even begin to describe how students worldwide feel when faced with a school threat. The term “school threats” can range from death threats written on bathroom stall doors to real life school shootings which are consistently reported on the news. U.S. News & World Report, a reliable media source focused on “reporting, rankings, journalism and advice,” states that “169 people have died in 14 such events connected to U.S. schools and colleges–from 1999’s Columbine Highschool massacre to Tuesday’s shooting in Texas.” In Udalve, Texas, on May 21, 2022, an 18-year-old opened fire at Robb Elementary School, resulting in the death of 19 children and two adults. Innocent people died at the hands of one person, and shootings such as these have been occurring continuously over the past few decades. 

Great Neck South High thankfully hasn’t experienced any school shootings; however, the attendance office did receive a voicemail last school year on February 14, 2022,  “that alleged a threat” for the following day. An email was sent out by the main office, detailing the safety measures taken place out of caution as well as the incident itself. Although there was no threat on February 15, 2022, there could have been, and lockdown drills, which are sometimes brushed off, were put into effect to prepare students and administrators for the worst possible scenarios. 

During a lockdown, students in the classroom should hide in a designated area (be out of view of the door window) and remain quiet until law enforcement official(s) advise otherwise. Furthermore, students outside a lockable room should find one immediately and follow the same procedures for safety. 

This is what should happen during lockdown drills, but it isn’t what consistently occurs at Great Neck South High. This year, a student jokingly chuckled “Could I just stay in my seat?” Although this school hasn’t had shootings or bomb threats, no one should be taking advantage of that fact. Instead of treating lockdown drills as useless regulations required by law, be thankful and treat drills like the real deal. Furthermore, students sometimes view lockdown drills as a time for chatting and using their devices. Not only is this highly inappropriate, but also a safety hazard for that particular student and others around them. Staying quiet, whether it’s by not talking or minimizing movement, is one of the most important directions to follow during a lockdown. It keeps a threat such as a shooter from hearing a student and then going in the direction of their voice which endangers them. 

Some teachers are not any better than students during lockdown drills. Experiences have occurred where teachers don’t comment on the reckless actions of students during drills. This may be because it’s “just a drill” and the teacher expects that students will act differently if it were real; however, actions speak louder than words. Lockdown drills are only effective when practiced correctly. 

One of the basic procedures that need to be taken during a lockdown drill is to lock the door. Insider, an online newspaper surrounding business and financial news, interviewed Jaclyn Schildkraut, a professor from SUNY Oswego, and she said that no gunman has ever been able to breach a locked door and that “They’re not going to have time to breach the door. Oxford was over in three minutes.” Keeping this in mind, a substitute locked the classroom door incorrectly during a lockdown drill at the beginning of this school year. Someone from the outside had simply opened the door in an attempt to check that the door was locked. This shouldn’t have happened. Although this hasn’t occurred multiple times, it happened that one time, and it wasn’t only one person that would’ve been at risk, but more than twenty other students in that classroom. Students with parents who trust the school to take care of their children. This incident stands as proof that lockdown drills need to be taken more seriously. 

As a community, we need to try better and make an effort towards creating a safer school environment by taking lockdown drills seriously, and that starts now.