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Teacher unions oppose unannounced simulations

The two largest teacher unions in the nation on Tuesday called for an end to unannounced active shooter drills and life-like simulations. 

The American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association made the recommendation with the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, citing the traumatic effects on students.

To avoid distressing children and leading them to think their learning environment is unsafe, the groups urged schools to reconsider putting students through active shooter drills at all. 

“Everywhere I travel, I hear from parents and educators about active shooter drills terrifying students, leaving them unable to concentrate in the classroom and unable to sleep at night,” said Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association. “So traumatizing students as we work to keep students safe from gun violence is not the answer.”

‘Terrified’:Teachers, kids hit hard by shooter drills

Saugus High students hug as they wait to be picked up by family members at a reunification point after a shooting at Saugus high school in Santa Clarita, Calif. on Nov 14. 2019.

While they do support training for school staff, the groups recommended additional precautions for student drills, including giving parents advanced notice and tracking any traumatic symptoms afterward. In the report released Tuesday, they also called on administrators designing the programs to consider input from students, law enforcement and mental health professionals. 

Lockdown drills have been around for decades, but as fear of school shootings has intensified, they have become more widespread and elaborate. According to a 2016 Government Accountability Office survey, almost all of the nation’s public schools participated in lockdown drills the previous year, and 67% held active shooter drills.

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