As A Teacher, What Should I Know About Classroom Door Lockdowns?
Being a teacher means having to bear a big responsibility. Teachers nurture their students’ curious minds. They provide guidance and knowledge. They shape students’ minds and groom them to be their better selves.
At school, they also become guardians. Keeping students safe from violence within the school grounds. Aside from students’ educational progress, teachers are tasked with their overall safety within the school (and sometimes beyond).
First, teachers must ensure physical safety. Within the classroom, teachers ensure tools do not pose a danger to the students. Other people and students are monitored to ensure physical violence will not break out in class. It’s imperative to create a safe environment because it leads to better learning for students.
Though not bearing the sole responsibility, teachers also ensure the safety of their students’ emotional and mental state. Bullying is prevalent in schools. Teachers are the first safeguards in preventing these.
When it comes to difficult emotional concepts, parents rely on teachers to help students understand. Hand in hand, parents, and teachers help together in explaining difficult concepts to students.
This is why teachers regularly undergo training related to school safety. Aside from training on preventing violence in school, teachers also undergo training for emergency drills.
On top of the regular emergency drills, teachers must train for active shooter preparedness. Also known as lockdown drills, security experts provide training to individuals and institutions to prepare for an intruder or external threats.
One of the most effective emergency active shooter training is ALICE Training. ALICE training stands for Alert - Lockdown - Inform - Counter - Evacuate. The training program helps in instilling immediate responses during high-pressure situations.
In 2018, Educationworld.com emphasizes that teachers need to be more prepared when it comes to handling active shooter situations. George Roberts, a community superintendent in Baltimore schools, said, “It is very important to have comprehensive plans, study it and practice it. Then it becomes instinctual.”
Teachers need to be the first to understand these emergency responses, so they can teach and guide their students through the drills. So, if you’re a teacher, what should you know about these classroom door lockdowns?
What happens in an active shooting event?
An active shooter event is defined as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a conﬁned and populated area.” The ALICE training website describes an active shooter event as unpredictable. An attack ends within 10-15 minutes. In most cases, active shooters used firearms during the attack.
Attacks are random and vary. Over the years, different government agencies have studied the active shooter attacks to find a pattern.
According to the Center for Homeland Defense and Security, most active shooting events happened on a Friday. However, the findings are not significant enough to state that it’s the pattern.
Source: ACTIVE SHOOTER: INCIDENTS BY DAY OF THE WEEK | K-12 School Shooting Database | Center for Homeland Defense and Security | accessed on January 31, 2020Another pattern that was studied was the shooter’s affiliation with the school where the attack happened. Current students rank the list. However, data is only based on publicly available.
Source: ACTIVE SHOOTER: SHOOTER’S AFFILIATION | K-12 School Shooting Database | Center for Homeland Defense and Security | accessed on October 22 2020
In 2018, the FBI launched a study in Pre-attack Behaviors of Active Shooters from 2000 to 2013. Based on the study, the 63 active shooters did not appear to be the same based on demographics alone.
However, another key finding in the study is that each shooter examined in the study displayed 4 to 5 very telling behaviors prior to the attack. Noticeable behaviors such as problematic interpersonal interactions and signs of violent intent can be a telltale sign for a possible attack.
Despite these findings, the FBI emphasized that there are limitations to the study that should be taken into consideration before drawing conclusions. The goal of the study is not to make a definitive guide on what makes an active shooter. Instead, the goal is to further study active shooter cases and to better inform all safety stakeholders.
In this case, there’s no way to effectively predict that next attack. The best response to an unpredictable emergency is to be prepared for it. ALICE Training and other lockdown drills can help prepare teachers and students for such an event.
What is the role of the teacher in an active shooting event?
The teacher’s main role in an active shooting event is to facilitate safety and emergency protocols. In a dissertation titled “The Role of Teachers in School Safety” by Leslie Lee Brown, it was determined that teachers are often in charge of a classroom when the school is experiencing an emergency.
As an authority figure in class, students often look toward teachers to guide them in what to do. As a result, the teacher needs to be the first one to stay calm and maintain composure in going through the emergency protocols.
To do this, a teacher must be confident in executing the emergency protocols of the school. Proper training and sufficient practice drills should be conducted for teachers to familiarize themselves with them.
Before the emergency, a teacher’s role is to communicate and explain these safety measures to their students. They are tasked to ensure all students are aware of what to do in times of crisis. They are the ones that’ll make sure that students understand what needs to be done and why this is happening.
When a school conducts practice drills, aside from facilitating, teachers must provide an overview to students. Doing so will ensure that students do not have unnecessary anxiety towards the drills. According to an article in Scholastic.com, teachers must communicate honestly and openly about the issues surrounding lockdown drills to their students.
Here are some of the tips on how to explain lockdown drills to students:
How should teachers (and students) handle an active shooting event?
There are two major responses recommended by the experts in handling an active shooting event. The first is ALICE Training created by the ALICE Institute. Another response is the Run. Hide. Fight. response recommended by the FBI.
Source: ALICE Training Overview | ALICE Training Institute | YouTube.com | Oct 10, 2018
Source: RUN. HIDE. FIGHT.® Surviving an Active Shooter Event - English | Ready Houston | YouTube.com | Video Copyright © 2012 City of Houston
Both training programs recommend conducting several drills to create an automatic response in case there’s a threat from an active shooter. Both are conducted by experts from the ALICE Training Institute and security officers from the government.
Teachers and school safety officers are highly recommended to undergo training directly from the experts. Getting firsthand knowledge from these experts help teachers to explain, teach, and guide students when the training is implemented schoolwide.
Another common concept from both the training programs is the importance of going into lockdown. Both emphasize that if evacuation is not feasible at the time of the attack, it’s better to get into a room and stop the shooter from entering it.
In schools, teachers should mobilize students in locking classroom doors from the inside. Aside from locking classroom doors, these also need to be barricaded to prevent any intruder from forcing their way inside.
A great way to barricade a classroom door that swings out is by using lockdown devices such as The Sleeve. There are many reasons why using lockdown devices can help in going through the ALICE and Run. Hide. Fight. protocols.
The Sleeve can be installed in a few seconds. This leaves teachers and students to concentrate their efforts in effectively hiding and informing authorities on what is happening. It’s lightweight and easy to store. It won’t obstruct any structure when it’s not used as a barricade.
Despite The Sleeve’s light weight (less than a pound), it can stop external force of up to 500 lbs. Its made of solid 12 gauge carbon steel. Its intuitive design lets anyone use it correctly without prior instructions. Teachers and students don’t need to drag and stack desks and chairs to use
Once the teachers and students are safe inside a locked room, they must hide to make sure they do not attract the attention of the shooter. Restrict visibility from the shooter by covering any windows or door panes that the shooter can use to check on your rooms. Avoid making any noise that could indicate where you are in the room. Whisper when communicating, and turn all devices to silent.
After securing the room and hiding, inform authorities about the incident by calling 911. Send an alert to your school security team as well. Wait inside the room until authorities start the evacuation.
What are the best practices of classroom door lockdowns?
Experts have weighed in on the best practices teachers (and students) must do during classroom door lockdowns. Aside from the studies conducted by various government agencies such as the FBI and Center for Homeland Defense and Security, previously affected schools also took action in creating recommendations based on their previous experience.
In 2015, the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission created a final report that included recommendations on how to improve school safety and lockdown procedures. Some of the recommendations are:
- All classrooms and other safe-haven areas should have doors that can be locked from the inside.
- All exterior doors in K-12 schools should have tools that can provide a perimeter full lockdown.
- Develop additional safety standards for providing keys to teachers, including substitutes.
- Maintain a list of faculty, staff, and students, complete with emergency contact information.
- Provide safety and security training for faculty, staff, and students on how to respond to emergencies such as an active shooter event.
One of the recommendations of the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission is to provide door locks for classrooms and other safe-haven areas. Most of these rooms have an outward-swinging door that requires a person to go out to activate the lock.
Despite having recommendations for improving school door security, not everyone can afford it. Upgrading school locks can cost $875 to $1075 per door. It’s costly and may affect building and fire codes depending on which state the school is located.
And because schools are public buildings, most of their major classroom doors are outward-swinging. Securing and barricading these types of doors are tricky. Some students tie a rope or cord on the door handle and then pull the door closed. It’s not effective since the shooter can still force their way into the classroom. Similar to locking doors from the outside, teachers and students pulling the door are not safe.
Teachers should have a quick and easy way to barricade outward-swinging doors and keep the class safe from an active shooter situation. Getting The Sleeve for each classroom helps the teacher conduct lockdown protocols in just seconds.
Having The Sleeve on hand also helps teachers maintain their calm during tense situations. Knowing that the active shooter cannot open the classroom door once The Sleeve is installed, teachers can be more confident and influence their students in maintaining calm.
Once the threat is gone, teachers can slip off The Sleeve from the door closer as quickly as they were able to install it. This does not impede students from leaving the room and evacuating the school properly.
Since The Sleeve is lightweight and easy to store, teachers can choose to bring it in their bags every day. A hanging bracket is also included in the product so teachers can designate it safely near the door with obstructing the hallway.
A teacher is responsible for students’ safety. Equipping yourself with the essential tools for classroom door lockdowns helps you prepare for the dangers of active shooting events.