Editorial: Drill in on safety

Coppell ISD had a lockdown drill in November and a fire drill in October. The Sidekick editorial board thinks students need to take school safety more seriously in order to be prepared for dangerous circumstances.

Ayane Kobayashi

Coppell ISD had a lockdown drill in November and a fire drill in October. The Sidekick editorial board thinks students need to take school safety more seriously in order to be prepared for dangerous circumstances.

Editorial Board

On Oct. 6, an 18-year-old student opened fire at his high school in Arlington, killing one student and wounding one teacher. This is one of 21 high school shootings in the United States since August.

On Nov. 9, Coppell High School held its first lockdown drill of the 2021-22 year, and when asked if students took drills such as these seriously enough one week later, Coppell High School Principal Laura Springer answered “absolutely not.”

Springer also added that teenagers react accordingly the moment a crisis occurs, but the idea among students that school drills are a waste of time reflects a larger issue. Issues concerning school safety seem far-off and fictitious, like something that would never be relevant at their own school. Students, as a result, do not take school safety seriously enough, and this allows incidents such as letting strangers into the school building and a lack of seriousness in safety drills. 

Coppell ISD’s safety protocols are led by former CHS school resource officer and current CISD coordinator of safety and security Rachael Freeman. District protocols are supplemented by CHS’s regularly meeting safety team, which in the event of a crisis, would work to mitigate any possible danger in a timely manner. The administration takes our safety seriously; why are students not doing the same?

It is similar to if there were one final chance to review for an exam. Would you not take the time to look over the material one more time? Though students can hope a crisis or serious instance of school danger will never occur, taking preventative action, such as following school rules about check-in/check-out and entering and leaving through approved exits is the only certain way to protect themselves. 

CHS tries to funnel its visitors into one main entrance from the Horseshoe. But with doors surrounding the building, non-CHS students and strangers have been allowed access to the building, bringing in theft, drugs and fights. Many students feel comfortable opening the doors for people waiting outside, whether they are friends who need access from outside or adults who look like parents and teachers. Students opening doors for strangers, who could be just about anyone, poses an obvious threat of danger. The doors of CHS are all posted with signs stating to not let anyone inside, but this still occurs frequently. Any exception to this rule creates a domino effect, with more students seeing and normalizing letting people into the building, and more danger ensuing.

School drills not only tell students where to go in the event of an emergency, but build a muscle memory in students and staff that should take over during the event of an actual emergency, while in a stressful situation. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) requires each high school to complete one lockout, evacuation, shelter-in-place for hazmat and shelter-in-place drills for severe weather, two lockdown drills and four fire evacuation drills per year in order to build this muscle memory.

How you practice is how you perform. When in a real instance of a crisis, knowing the exact spots to go to and directions to follow are essential. Though many students feel they have learned these directions, reinforcement is key to preventing any confusion in a time of true stress. It is also upon teachers to direct a class to follow directions and a protocol of drills. It is up to them to set an example, one that will be followed during an actual crisis. Consider a drill to be a dress rehearsal for a big play. It is not the time to play around or take things lightly – it is serious, just as the event of a drill would be. 

Just on Nov. 30, a 15-year-old student opened fire at his high school in Oxford, Mich., killing four and wounding seven. This is the deadliest school shooting since May 2018.

School shootings may seem unreal, but given rather recent events, they are not as far-off as previously assumed. It would be naive to take drills lightly with the rise of school shootings in the return of in-person learning. No matter how unreal a shooting at CHS may seem, taking care to ensure the school is prepared is a surefire way to mitigate any possibility of harm. 

Given that taking drills seriously only requires a few minutes of somberness and compliance, it doesn’t feel like too much to ask in return to mitigate the possibility of harm in the future.

Follow @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.