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School safety bill, drills are needed

It is hard to imagine schools preparing for an active shooter the way they do for other disasters like tornadoes and earthquakes. But that is the world we live in now.

Legislators have filed a bill that would require safety inspections and active shooter drills at public schools. Both of Lincoln County’s representatives in the House voted for the bill, though one did so with reservations.

And it is easy to understand why. Do elementary age children really need to know how to survive an active shooter? The answer, unfortunately, is yes.

“The threat is real and it’s one we have to prepare for,” said Rep. Mark Baker, the Brandon Republican who sponsored the bill.

“I have many concerns with that bill. The amount of work that will be required is more than I want to put on our school officials now and on our students,” Rep. Becky Currie said. “I struggled with that bill terribly, but if I had voted ‘no’ and something happened to our students I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.  I pray that we are never faced with this but, unfortunately, it is a reality of our world now.”

For most of us, the worst thing we could have imagined happening at school was getting a paddling for misbehaving. Times have changed, though. And those who are hesitant to expose young children to these realities will have to put aside their uneasiness for the sake of safety.

Children must know what to do if a shooter enters their school. Lincoln County School District Superintendent Mickey Myers said he was not concerned with active shooter drills for elementary students.

“Early childhood educators are among the most nurturing people on earth,” he said.  “They are very capable of conducting these drills without traumatizing elementary students.”

We hope he is right, because the requirement to hold active shooter drills may soon be law.

As difficult as it may be for schools to conduct these drills, they have become a necessary component of school safety. The shootings are not likely to stop, so state leaders are wise to make sure students are prepared.