Drills Should Be More Focused Towards the Convenience and Comfort of Students, Teachers and Staff [Opinion]


By Liy Taliaferro, North Star Reporter

This year, the Dean of Students Steve Moorman is in charge of FHN’s drill scheduling, and students have shared their opinions on their experience with the drills we have had this year.   

It is the Missouri State Law that public schools are to host a minimum of 10 fire drills, two earthquake drills, two tornado drills, and two lockdown drills each year. This is Moorman’s first year being in charge of the school’s drill schedule. Last year Michael Janes, the activities director, was in charge of it and had already made plans for this years. Moorman is carrying out that schedule and will plan one for next year based on how this years went.

Future drills should not be unpleasant and inconvenient for students, teachers or staff. Many students feel that the fire drills don’t coordinate well with the weather. The cold, snow and rain have been brutal this year, making its difficult to have at least one drill every month and meet the state required amount. When planning fire drills, the weather is something that Moorman takes into consideration. During some fire drills, some teachers failed to remind their students to bring coats causing students to stand outside shivering, huddling with their friends to get warm. For another fire drill, students had to face the low temperatures in the rain. Those who were fortunate enough to have gotten their coats, had them and those who were less fortunate had used their backpacks and folders to shield themselves, and some had nothing.   

In addition some students felt that the drills interrupted their classes. The scheduling for the drills is not at fault, teachers should try to reschedule new material or important lessons and save them for days when the school doesn’t have any drills planned. Drills will interrupt classes no matter what, but students would prefer if they weren’t missing out on anything new.

For unannounced drills, it’s understandable that changing a schedule would not be doable and students who missed information that period would have to be made up later on. Depending on how significant the material was could easily spiral into a recipe for failure. Unannounced drills should be on Mondays or Tuesdays, and students should have extended time to catch up on any work or lessons that they missed on days there were drills.

Some students feel like they don’t know the procedures for all of their classes. Most teachers addressed the procedures at the very beginning of the year, and months down the road when the fire alarm goes off, or an announcement on the intercom tells students that we are having a tornado drill, an earthquake drill or an intruder drill, those instructions are entirely forgotten. Some students who have changed classes the next semester weren’t aware of those procedures from the start.   

It’s not just one forgetful teen either, a lot of students can’t confidently say that they know the drill procedures for all of their classes. Teachers need to reiterate the procedures every other quarter with their students. Teachers should give their students quizzes on paper every other month and at the beginning of the semester asking students where to go from their room in the event of a fire, a tornado or an earthquake and the location of the attendance sheet. That way, students would actually be aware of what the safety plans are.

In the future, students should not have to deal with poor weather conditions on days we have fire drills, and teachers should find a way to change their schedule so students don’t miss out on important material. But most importantly, no one ever expects it to be their school that experiences a fire, a tornado, an earthquake or an active shooter. Students and staff need to know the drills thoroughly so if we ever have to experience a dangerous situation, we’ll know what to do.