Should students be warned before active shooter drills?

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NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KNWA) – Schools across the United States practice what to do if an active shooter is to enter their campus. However, should students be warned before a drill takes place?​

Active shooter drills or lock down drills have become a part of school practices here in NWA.

Whether the drills are announced beforehand or a surprise, educators say the goal is for school staff and students to be prepared.​ ​

Northwest Health Systems, Director of Clinical Outreach​ Velvet Shoults​ said “when we were younger we did fire drills we did tornado drills because that was the threat at that school at the time. Right now, whether it be a business, hospital or corporation the threat is an active assailant.”​ ​

In the state of Arkansas all schools must conduct an active shooter drill. Shoults works with schools, churches and businesses to help them prepare.​ ​ “We try to tailor it to their requests.

Educators and principals, they know what their schools need and what their teachers and parents are interested in.”

Schools in Springdale and Rogers do at least two lock down drills a year which students and staff are told about before they happen. In Bentonville, Communications Director Leslie Wright said they do about 4 drills a year.

The first one is announced and the rest are surprises.​ ​”Once we get to the second or third drill, we don’t announce those in advance to the building staff so that we can watch for anything that can be corrected should any issues arise​.”

A concerned parent reached out to us saying she feels this makes some children experience fear or trauma because they can’t tell if the drill is the real thing.​ ​

“It’s just the climate that we live in and we just think it is better to be prepared for the worst case scenario,” Wright said.

“If you prepare everybody you don’t get the realistic response from it,” Shoults said.

Both Wright and Shoults recommend parents to take an active role and speak to their kids about how to prepare for emergency situations including active shooter drills. ​ ​

“I think it is very important to alleviate your child fears and alleviate your child’s concerns. Let them know that these drills although they’re necessary, they’re nothing to fear and that they’re there to protect you,” said ​Wright.

Bentonville school district has talking points available to parents on the school website to help them talk to their kids about active shooter safety.​

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