HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) – Active shooter drills have become common practice for students, but some are questioning if that should be the case.

Teachers unions are now calling for a change to how many schools do the drills.

Local teachers say these drills create a lot of stress on students, while doing little for safety. They say it might be better if training focuses on adults.

“It’s just going beyond what we need to do,” said Jeff Leake, Connecticut Education Association President.

The Connecticut Education Association President Jeff Leake spoke with Eyewitness News on Thursday, just days after national teachers’ unions raised similar concerns.

But teachers aren’t alone. Mental Health Connecticut President Luis Perez agrees. He also says increased stress can impact student’s views of the world when they grow up.

“Children use these experiences to formulate their world view of what is society and what’s the world that they live in,” Perez said.

Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona said in a statement changes could be made but, “sensible preparation for natural disasters or dangerous unwanted people in schools should continue.”

Leake’s biggest concern is efforts by schools to replicate a real active shooter situation.

“Sometimes, there’s the pretense that somebody’s in the building, there’s an active shooter and so forth,” Leake said.

This can be particularly stressful for young students, Perez says. He also says schools should make sure parents are aware and ready to talk with their kids.

“A lot of places aren’t doing the work around preparing parents, so that when the kids get home and talk about it, they’re able to support them,” Perez said.

Cardona agreed that some practices go to far, saying “In many cases, this may heighten anxiety and negatively impact learning bandwidth and engagement in students who have previously been exposed to violence. The best approach is a sensible one that promotes safety without creating unnecessary fear.”

Perez says research is still new. Many schools didn’t have drills until after the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012 or the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, but students are aware of the risks.

“They know there is the risk or potential for a shooter, because that is what’s happening in our world,” Perez said.

One possible solution, Leake says have teachers perform drills when students are at home.


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