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School Emergencies

As a child in elementary school, how many of us had school emergency drills, i.e. Fire Drills, Tornado Drills, and even Earthquake drills? It would be a rarity for us to actually have to implement these actions other than in drills. We were all put at ease and the only things we would have to worry about was making sure we got on the bus on time, make sure we didn’t forget our homework and textbooks, and looking forward to seeing our friends the next day. In high school, we would have drills for emergencies and worries would consist of things like “I wonder how my report card is going to look?”, “Does he like me?”, “Should I run for Homecoming court?”, or “How long will I have to stand in the metal detector line when I get to school?”. If you had a bully or beef with someone, most kids would take to upon themselves to squash it right then with a fist fight, knowing the risk of getting suspended or expelled, but after that, life goes on. These days, you have to worry about what you say to people, how you said it, and how it made them feel. You have to use caution when selecting your friends and everyone must feel included. I think being included is very important, however, it could also pose a false impression. For example, if you sent a birthday invitation to everyone in the class because the rules are to not leave anyone out, a kid might think "oh they must really like me and want my company at their party" but in reality the person of honor could avoid talking to you the whole party and only invited you because they had to, which could stir up a whole batch of emotions.

The recent school shooting occurred many miles away but was close enough weigh heavy on my heart. No one should have to go to school in fear of sitting in a classroom and encountering an intruder who is heartless enough to aim a gun at innocent children/students. I will NEVER understand that. Not sure if all of these shootings stem from mental/psych illness, coward syndrome, or envy but I continue to pray for all. If these people are in such a deep depression that they create a plan to go on a rampage and take individuals out including themselves, we have quite a large, growing issue. Deterring from the topic a minute, I saw a commercial yesterday focusing on vaping and from that I thought, what is America’s largest priority: Vaping, Mental Health, Gun Control, or Opioid Abuse? Could they all be co-related? We all have situations in life that could trigger us to fall into a depression in a wink of an eye and we all cope/deal with it differently. There is no one size fits all which makes these instances so hard to battle. I watched the reporters interview the students of Saugus High School and they all said that they knew what to do in this instance as they previously had intruder drills. It’s so heartbreaking that kids have to prepare for things like this but reassuring that the schools, teachers, and students understand the plan to stay safe.

With this, I started to think about my own children. How tempting is it to opt to just homeschool them? One interesting thing that I had never heard of but a smart concept that their school did was request parents send what’s called an “Emergency Kit”. Each student was required a few weeks ago to turn in a large ziplock bag filled with non-perishable snacks or snacks that would last through May like granola bars, bottled water, raisins, etc. The teachers keep these bags stored in a certain location in case of emergencies and are easily accessible for them to distribute when necessary. The purpose of these bags are to be available to students in case there’s an emergency like natural disaster where they are waiting for rescue or parents to reconnect with their children, which could be a while so the kids can have some type of nourishment while they wait. I think all schools should do this. One thing that I added to each of the bags was a letter/note to my kiddos. As I wrote it, I channeled how I thought the kids would feel in that situation, scared, alone, and wanting their mom or dad. I included words of encouragement and reassurance that they would not be alone for long and that they would be ok. I reminded them to pray and not be worried. I even drew a picture with crayons to help give some relief.

Talk to your children and/or students about all types of emergencies. One thing to think about is: Do you have a lock or password on your phone? Do your kids know it and know how to dial out for help or find a relatives phone number? An example scenario: What if you’re home alone with your little ones and suddenly fall ill or pass out. A lot of us have gotten rid of house phones so call phones are all we have. I recommend doing play scenarios to see what they would do and explain what they SHOULD do. Also, ask them about drills at school and to demonstrate and talk about what they had to do. Create a plan and drill at home as well. Different areas of the world have diff threats, whether its earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, wildfires, and unfortunately, intruders.

As I close this post, I would like to take a moment to send my thoughts and prayers to the families, students, and staff of Saugus High School as well as all of our students and schools around the world.

P.S. Stay tuned to next week’s post when I talk about my birth story and first month post-partum!

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