Legislation could decrease lockdown drills in schools
ALBANY, NY (Erie News Now)--As the school year starts, some New York lawmakers expressed concern about lockdown drill's impact on student's mental health.
The state of New York currently mandates four lock-down drills per year in schools. Some state lawmakers want to change this.
“Because students are experiencing these lock-down drills, we have normalized this behavior where students can expect to go to their classrooms just to be shot at and killed. Really not the message we should be sending to kids,” said Sen. Gounardes (D-26th Senate District).
The legislation intends to decrease the frequency of these drills in schools from four to one and allow parents to opt their children out as needed.
Some school districts expressed concerns. Dr. Thomas Douglas, Horseheads superintendent of schools, said students need these drills as preparation for potential emergency situations such as lockdowns.
“We don’t get to opt out in life and that’s where I have a concern. Our big thing is, our students are very resilient, our teachers, our instructional staff and our administrators know what they’re doing, and they try to minimize the impact on it,” Douglas said.
In the most recent legislative session the bill passed in the Senate but not in the Assembly. Assembly Member Phil Palmesano (R-Corning) said he supports this legislation but more discussion is needed around the issue. Palmesano also said students safety should be the top priority.
"We definitely need to make sure our children are prepared if God forbid some kind of tragedy or event occurs, that they know what to do to address that situation," he said.
Sen Gounardes said he hopes the bill passes in both houses in the next legislative session starting in January.