Scaring a schoolyard full of kids into thinking they’re about to be shot might not be the smartest way to prepare them for a school emergency, but it’s what a Wyoming elementary school decided to do last week with a “training exercise” that faked an intruder with a gun on school grounds.
It didn’t go well.
Introducing the topic on Monday’s “Outnumbered,” Harris Faulkner described the scene at East Side Elementary School in Worland, Wy., as pandemonium after a man who was unknown to students wandered onto the school’s playground with a backpack over his shoulder.
In view of the children, a gym teacher tapped the unknown who then fled, leader the gym teacher to blow his whistle and shout, “Run! Run!”
Unfortunately, some children thought they heard him shout “Gun! Gun!” and panic set in. Some students cried, Faulkner said. Others asked if they were about to die without being able to see their parents again.
The “Outnumbered” panel’s view was unanimous, and summed up best by Jedediah Bila.
“This is crazy!” she said. “This is a complete disaster. This is not how they should have handled this.”
No, it’s probably not. School fire drills generally aren’t conducted by gym teachers running through classrooms blowing whistles and shouting, “Fire! Fire!” (The Supreme Court tends to frown on things like that.)
To make matters worse, the school failed to warn parents beyond issuing a blanket email notifying them that a “low-level drill” was going to be held on the school grounds. Educators should know that what’s “low-level” to an adult might be something entirely different to a 6-year-old who thinks he’s about to die.
Panelist Andrea Tanteros said that’s where the school’s communication really failed.
“The right way is to talk to the kids, talk to parents, make it very orderly,” she said. “This scares me. I would’ve been scared if it would have happened.”
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