Lockdown lowdown

State mandates increased crisis drills

Serenity Stafos, Staff Writer

A hot button topic amongst educators and students alike is the updated policy on drills in schools across Kansas.
The State Fire Marshal sent out a letter to all principals and superintendents stating that school’s must comply with “…a new legislative initiative requiring 16 emergency preparedness drills during the school year…”
The letter came on the heels of the passing of the House Substitute for
Senate Bill 109, which went into effect on July 1, 2018.
Each district must conduct four fire drills, three tornado drills and nine crisis drills – which is essentially one per month.
“I don’t know that it’s a bad thing to do one every month,” Principal Mark Meyer said. ”The thing that I don’t like about it is that’s just kind of the sign of the times [… ] but I think it’s necessary to be prepared.”
Previously, the state required schools to conduct one fire drill every month school and three tornado drills throughout the year. While, many schools, including Gardner, practiced crisis drills, they were not regulated by the state.
To meet the new standards, the district had to increase the amount of practiced crisis drill and can give no more than five minutes advanced notice prior to starting the drill.
“I wish we didn’t have so many drills but I understand why we do,” senior Lexi Morgan said. “The school is just taking extra precautions to make sure we are safe and I don’t see any reason to be upset about that”
While full lockdown or intruder drills are the what comes to mind first, there are several variations of crisis drills that can be conducted to meet the new standards.
“Some of those could be just doing the perimeter doors and everything else stays business as usual […] we could do a modified, where we lock all of our interior doors and we restrict travel, but you can still hold class […] we will probably do something this year with a full scale evacuation drill,” Meyer said.
According to Meyer, it’s important that with the increased number of drills doesn’t cause students and teachers to loose sight of the seriousness of the issue behind them.
“Sometimes the [drills] you do the most people start to take for granted,” he said. “I just don’t want people to get complacent because we do the drills so often that they start to think that it’s not that big of a deal.”