Max, a 9-year old student at a private school on the North side, describes a lockdown drill, reported by The Economist.
“One teacher pretends to be an intruder. We have to hide in classroom, turn over our desks and hide behind them. We have to lock the door, barricade all the heavy stuff in front of the door and take a book or a ruler so we can throw it at the intruder if he comes in. We have to be super quiet. If someone says it is safe to come out we cannot do that, because it could be the intruder. We have to wait for the principal to come knocking on the door to tell us it is safe to come out.”
In February 2018, 17 were murdered at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which had held lockdown drills regularly. In May, a student at Sante Fe High School In Texas gunned down ten of his classmates, wounding thirteen with a shotgun and revolver.
After the Sante Fe Massacre, Republican lieutenant-governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, suggested that teachers be armed with concealed weapons, and that school entrances should be reduced to one or two, disregarding that this may in fact trap the children inside the school in case of an emergency.
In fact, some new schools are now being designed with these very ideas in mind in order to prevent mass shootings. Jim French, an architect with DLR Group who specializes in building schools, said that while the architecture of a school can help, it can only help up to a point. He said, “The worst thing we can do is turn our schools into prisons.”
In Sandy Hook, the site of the deadliest school shooting in history, a newly designed school is shaped like an “E” in order to maximize the evacuation routes. Each classroom has locks, security doors, and windows with impact-resistant glass.
The National RIfle Association (NRA) produced a report in 2013 following the tragedy at Sandy Hook, offering several suggestions: "limiting entry to a single point; building a prison-style fence; banning greenery outside schools because intruders may hide in trees and bushes or use them to cut through the aforementioned fence; and making do without windows, or only small ones with ballistic protective glass. Front offices should be protected with two sets of automatically locking doors to create an 'entrapment area.'"
The report ends with the suggestion to arm the school’s teachers, a cost which would run into hundreds of millions of dollars per state. Yet, according to the American Society for Civil Engineers, America’s school infrastructure is already underfunded by approximately $38 billion per year.