As the video image sharpens, we see a foot, a small body hunched under a desk, and we hear screaming, children screaming, The video is being recorded from the floor at Marjory Stonemason Douglas High School where students are hiding from the active shooter. Our children are taught to be quiet in lockdowns and rush to hide in closets and bathrooms and sometimes, like this time, they are even told to run.
But what if they can’t? Can’t calm themselves enough to be quiet? Can’t see in the semi-dark room? Can’t hear the alarm or cry of danger? What if they can’t walk or move to the closest hiding place? What if they can’t follow the directions they are given?
We were driving home from school when my daughter began telling me about the drill. “Mom, ..” she started. “ I think I need to park my wheelchair somewhere different in History class. We had a drill today and.. “ What?” I interrupt. I tightly hold the steering wheel and remind myself to breathe. “ Well my wheelchair was in the back of my class, and I couldn’t drive out the other door we use for drills, so my friend helped me walk. Is that okay?”
It is a simple question, but I am already running through scenarios- How my daughter can only walk about 4 feet unassisted before she falls. How unbalanced she is when you take her hand to walk her. What if it is real? What if she is slowing someone down? I think. Will they drop her hand and run? I trust the staff at her school, even her compassionate classmates, is it enough? What if there is a fire? A shooting? What is the fastest route? The safest? For her? For her friend? We work out a plan, and she is content. But she is the child, and I am the parent, and I know our plan has flaws. For every school, for every student- there isn’t a safety protocol that exists that will keep every child safe.
Police Storm The Classroom.
In this video, the classroom is semi-dark. That is the practice in lockdowns. I know this means, that if my daughter were there, with her impaired vision, she would see nothing. And that fear is real within me. My heartbeat quickens as I watch. One student is standing, the rest are seated, and I wonder about that student standing and how vulnerable he is just as the SWAT team enters the classroom calling out their demands of “ Hands! Hands! ” . Almost all the students immediately raise their hands, I see hands that are unable to be held still, and I know there are students who will not be able to process fast enough the urgent cry of police to raise their “ Hands! Hands! Hands! What happens then? We know now this active shooter was able to blend into the crowd of uninjured students. What will happen next time?