SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – This past weekend was a reminder that a tragedy can strike at any time. With classes about to resume throughout the Bay area, Big changes are in store to keep kids safe.
Millions of dollars have been spent to harden all school campuses across Sarasota county, but even so, students need to be prepared. You never know when or where a gunman could strike.
So students can expect to have regular active shooter drills every month.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act requires Florida students to be well trained in case a horrific tragedy strikes at their school.
“Times have changed and its really scary,” said Sarasota County school board member Eric Robinson.
Now, under Florida law, students must undergo just as many active shooter drills as they do fire drills.
In Sarasota county, that means ten active shooter drills this school year. When flashing lights and an intercom message is announced, students will hide in designated safe corners.
“We’ve got a brand new system that we’ve put in all the schools which is electronic voice that basically tells the staff to lockdown, lockdown, lockdown,” said Sarasota County School Police Chief Tim Enos.
“Even if they could see through the window the shooter wouldn’t be able to see them because they’ll be out of the line of sight from outside windows or from the window to the door,” explained Robinson.
All classroom windows have been fitted with a special reflective film.
As for kids outside, they’re being trained to run and hide to a designated safe area.
For Robinson, that’s worrisome.
“I think that the natural inclination hard wired into all humans is to flee from danger so to have this many drills for such young children, I’m worried about the effect,” said Robinson. “This is going to cause the kids to have nightmares or who knows what. Unfortunately, it’s the era in which we live in now, the era in which we live in now.”
Robinson hopes one day fewer active shooter drills will be needed.
“People need to weigh the safety of the children which is tantamount but also how much mental anguish this may cause young elementary school students,” said Robinson.
But Enos says that’s why parents need to talk to their kids.
“They need to understand why they’re doing them, so that they can feel less anxious,” said Enos. “We want to provide the safest environment we can at schools so that students can learn.”
The first active shooter drill will be held within the first 5 days of the school year.