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Active Shooter Drills Take on New Meaning for Schools

Swings in school playground
Hal Frain
Flickr (CC X 2.0)

For years, schools throughout Illinois have been required to hold active shooter drills. But those drills are taking on more meaning for teachers and administrators tasked with keeping children safe. 

It’s been about a decade since the PORTA school district conducted its first drill for faculty and staff, long before it was required by law. With a new dangerous scenario every year, teachers work alongside law enforcement and paramedics to neutralize an active shooter situation in their school.

Superintendent Matthew Brue says they do their best to make each drill feel as real as possible. “Even in these activities we have gunfire that’s obviously not live gunfire; it’s blanks. We have people running around in fear mode, fight or flight situations and they have to manage all these people.”

All staff and faculty are required to participate in the drill, but students are not included yet.

“Students are included in all the other activities that we do: lockdown activities, fire drills, tornado drills, that sort of stuff," said Brue. "But, in an active shooter situation you need your leadership, your teachers and other staff members guiding students to do the right thing in that instant because you can’t predict what’s going to happen in an active shooter situation.”

After a shooting at Mattoon High School last month, Brue says that’s a perfect example of the possibility of danger in any school and his goal is to make sure his entire staff is prepared.

Jaclyn has an MA in Journalism from DePaul University and a BS in History form Monmouth College. Prior to reporting, Jaclyn was a social science teacher and department chair at Greenfield High School. Previously, Jaclyn reported for WICS Newschannel 20 where she covered a variety of assignments including courts, politics, and breaking news. She also reported at Siouxland News in Sioux City Iowa, the shared CBS/Fox television newsroom. Her internships included WGN and Comcast SportsNet in Chicago.
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