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Let teachers know the evacuation drill is just practice, one educator asks

They don't want to be lured into a real threat.
Published Feb. 19, 2018|Updated Feb. 19, 2018

With last week's deadly massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High still raw on everyone's minds, school district officials across Florida have planned to run emergency drills to remind everyone how to respond.

"While we have conducted monthly security and evacuations drills, we will be conducting a lockdown and evacuation drill next week," Middleton High principal Kim Moore told parents in a recorded call Friday, shortly after her school was forced to react to a drive by shooting.

The thing is, though, now everyone who pays any sort of attention knows what the schools are preparing to do.

That has at least one teacher concerned that some person might take advantage, noting that the Parkland shooter is believed to have pulled the fire alarm to draw students out of their classrooms.

“It would make sense to schedule all drills and inform teachers and staff ahead of time about a drill so that we know it is safe to evacuate students from the building,” Pasco County eighth grade teacher Deborah Sierra suggested in an email to superintendent Kurt Browning.

Pasco delayed its planned drills last week, after the shooting occurred.

"I do not think it would seriously impact our response times, as we all understand the importance of practicing safe and fast evacuations," Sierra continued. "But it would eliminate the anxiety we will all likely feel every time the fire alarm goes off and we have to leave the building at an unexpected time."

That still wouldn't answer the situation when the alarm sounds and it's not a drill, Sierra acknowledged. But at least then everyone would know it's not a practice scenario, and administration could direct the staff on how to treat the threat.

In Hillsborough County, they plan to do as the teacher recommended. A Monday afternoon call to alert parents that every school will do a drill this week stressed, "We will make it clear to students that this is not a real emergency."

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