Lawmakers propose bill to reduce number of active shooter drills in New York schools

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Wednesday, April 26, 2023
NY lawmakers propose reducing number of school active shooter drills
A new proposal in New York would change the rules on active shooter lockdown drills in public and private schools.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A new proposal in New York would change the rules on active shooter lockdown drills in schools.

State Senator Andrew Gounardes and Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon want to reduce the number of drills from four to one a year.

They claim too many of these drills can lead to anxiety and depression and have traumatic consequences.

They say one study on the aftereffects of the active shooter drills shows that they led to a 39% spike in depression, a 42% increase in stress and anxiety, and a 23% increase in overall physiological health problems.

They are also proposing parents get the option to keep their kids from participating in the drills.

The lawmakers also say many teachers in New York don't receive formal training on how to conduct the drills and learn by trial and error instead. This bill would ensure that teachers are trained before they run lockdown drills,

Under the present law, students who attend public or private schools in New York State participate in a total of 60 lockdown drills by the time they graduate.

"Lockdown drills are traumatizing and terrifying. There's a smarter and better way to do this," Gounardes said. "We need to make sure that our kids both feel safe and are safe at school, even if the worst happens. We also need to make sure that we aren't causing our children more trauma with excessive and ineffective lockdown drills. My bill is a clear and commonsense way to get us there."

The New York State Department of Education released the following statement:

"The Department does not comment on pending legislation. It is important for school administrators and leadership teams to always be prepared for any possible incident, but in this time of heightened anxiety related to school safety, it is particularly important to facilitate a safe and calm culture of preparedness, as well as clear communication between law enforcement and school officials. To that end, much of this work is already underway with the ongoing development of guidance and resources to support schools in developing high-quality emergency response plans to inform students on emergency procedures. We are working with national experts to develop best practices for drills that result in students and staff feeling more prepared and not traumatized while maintaining a commitment to preparedness.

This June, NYSED will release a 13-module training video series to make this information more accessible to district and school staff. We are also engaged in developing a curriculum that includes guidance, training materials, and resources to train school staff and students in how to respond to specific emergency situations."

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