Active shooter drills: Best practices for K12 school safety

Educators should create safety teams and tailor drills to grade levels
By: | February 14, 2019
Active shooter precautions in U.S. schools include fire alarm-like call boxes that alert people in the building and police.Active shooter precautions in U.S. schools include fire alarm-like call boxes that alert people in the building and police.

The National Association of School Psychologists and the National Association of School Resource Officers offer guidance on armed assailant training. Their report, “Best Practice Considerations for Schools in Active Shooter and Other Armed Assailant Drills,” recommends procedures for safe and effective drills.

8 active shooter drill steps

1. Create a school safety team. Include an administrator, school mental health professional, school nurse and security personnel, as well as teachers and parents. The team also must coordinate with local law enforcement and emergency responders.

2. Identify risks by conducting a needs assessment of the school community.

3. Implement a cost-benefit analysis that considers all emergency preparedness needs and options.

4. Tailor drills based on age and grade level. Also consider developmental maturity, prior traumatic experiences and special needs.

5. Create a plan of progression that builds on the simplest, lowest-cost training. The plan also should identify obstacles and goals, as well as establishing a timeline.

6. Prepare drills that ensure physical as well as psychological safety. Drills should also emphasize skills and knowledge acquisition.

7. Develop a communications plan that includes giving all participants advanced warning. Also provide participants he ability to opt out and/or provide feedback.

8. To support sustainability, establish a long-term follow-up plan that also covers ongoing training needs.


Main storyRealistic active shooter drills strengthen school safety