Code red drills: Students express concerns over their effectiveness
FeaturesGeneral Features December 8, 2019 Admin
BY ABBIE TUSCHMAN
From the time they are in kindergarten, children are exposed to school drills. Whether it’s for a fire or a tornado, students are taught at a young age how to follow directions and stay safe.
In the past year, Cowboys have become increasingly familiar with code red drills. But that doesn’t mean they have much faith in their efficacy.
After the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018, there was a push for better preparedness for active shooter situations. Florida’s Senate Bill (SB) No. 7026, known as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, mandates that drills for active shooter and hostage situations take place at least as often as other emergency drills. In Broward County Public Schools, active shooter and hostage situations are designated as “code red.” SB 7026 has resulted in monthly code red drills in schools across the district.
Though one might think that monthly drills make students more alert about the threat of school shootings, some students feel that the frequency of code red drills leads to desensitization.
“The fact that students laugh, talk and are on their phones during our monthly drills shows how insensitive we’ve become to them.”
“Drills make us used to the situation. They make us completely numb to the environment,” junior Sabrina Rapoport said. “The fact that students laugh, talk and are on their phones during our monthly drills shows how insensitive we’ve become to them.”
Though the drills are supposed to teach students and teachers what to do in the event of a true code red, many continue to express that the protocol would be abandoned if lives were in danger, particularly if the code was called during lunch or between classes.
“There are situations where following the code red drills [would be] useful, if they are a last resort,” senior Henry Ching said. “However, considering the panic a true situation would cause, I doubt that most people most would follow the protocols set. I feel that there would be more people doing what they’d feel [to] be most safe, whether that be hiding in the nearest room or running out of the school’s vicinity.”
If a code red drill occurs during class, the students and teacher will gather in the “hard corner” of the classroom—an area that one would not be able to see from hallways, windows or door openings. These areas have been designated and clearly marked in all CCHS classrooms, and in classrooms across the county. However, despite what their name implies, these corners may not offer much physical protection in the case of an active shooter.
“Considering I’ve seen holes in walls within the school due to student actions … I really don’t think that the walls would protect students as they are quite hollow. The designated corners really only serve as a mental safe.”
In many classrooms, the “hard corner” is located against a wall that separates the classroom from the hallway. Recently, two large holes were made in the walls of the 3900 building’s third-floor science wing. While they have since been repaired, for some students, the sight only emphasized the lack of protection offered by the school’s fragile walls.
“Considering I’ve seen holes in walls within the school due to student actions … I really don’t think that the walls would protect students as they are quite hollow,” Ching said. “The designated corners really only serve as a mental safe.”
With how common school shootings have become, the importance of precaution is evident. But it appears that the current protocol at CCHS doesn’t do much to put students’ minds at ease.
Photo by The Lariat Photography