Safety Drills During the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Safety drills act as a practice round for emergency events that might happen at Lake Ridge, but with Covid-19, they will look different this year.

Abigail Lowry, ENN Staff

COVID-19 has changed the lives of many over the past seven months in the United States; as a result, students have gotten out of the swing with things regarding their daily life. Students had to rapidly adjust their routines completely over quarantine, from the time they woke up, their daily attire, to what they do during the day, and ensuring the safety and health of themselves and others. Despite the arrival of Covid-19 and the disruption it has caused across America, Lake Ridge Eagles have returned back to in-person learning at school for almost three weeks now. Teachers, custodians, and administrative staff have enforced many new precautions to ensure student and staff safety against the virus. However, there are many focuses of safety, such as the event of a fire, severe weather, and lockdowns in the event of an outside threat made against people in the school. In order to keep students and staff safe, each year Lake Ridge practices drills for each scenario, so that everyone is prepared, in the case that the particular event actually occurs. With the virus calling for the use of masks and the practice of social distancing, safety drills for the Eagles are bound to look a little different than in years past. 

Safety drills at Lake Ridge act as a practice, so that in the case of a fire or impending severe weather, students and staff are safe and well prepared. Lake Ridge Eagles rely on these drills in order to make themselves feel more protected. Freshman, Ellie Hawkins, says that having others around her, who are equally prepared, makes her feel safe at school.

 “I have people that I can turn to when I need help, and that’s really helpful. I’ve never had a situation where I don’t feel safe, but I know that if I ever do, I have a support net around me,” Hawkins said.

Practicing these drills help students and staff feel safe and prepared for the unknown. However, while some eagles may feel safe after practicing these drills, others still remain fearful. Freshman, Adeline Keith, admitted that she struggles with the fear of the unknown, but she learned to channel her fear into awareness. That awareness is what helps her feel more at ease during the school day. 

“I don’t really feel safe. However, I tend to notice the little details in things, and that helps me feel safe. Because I am able to notice these details, I can tell when something doesn’t feel right,” stated Keith.

The purpose of drills in any situation is to prepare everyone on campus when there is a direct threat or danger against the school. However, many students see the drills as meaningless or unimportant. Many students do not take the drills seriously. Freshman,Olivia Burke, thinks that students should change their attitude about safety and take it more seriously.

“I really don’t think there’s anything you can do about the way students act in drills. Kids are kids. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s not important to do drills,” Burke said.

Depending on the type of drill, they are usually practiced at least once a month. Drills are repeated regularly, in a normal year, so Eagles know what they need to do in an emergency. AP Human teacher, Ashley Hicks, says that repeating these drills help students so they know what to do. However, Hicks admits that human nature can cause different reactions when it comes to the event happening in real life.

“The idea behind repeating drills is that in a real life scenario, you would be able to know what to do and where to go and not just panic. But in these situations, people are going to panic. That’s just human nature,” said Hicks.

Even if a student is virtual, safety is important no matter what. Assistant Principal, Rob Romaguera, urges that safety in all aspects should remain equally important, and one’s awareness shouldn’t change based on where you are.

“Well, just knowing that if you go to any public event or venue or school or office building that there’s some protocol there at all times is helpful. Everyone is doing some kind of drills, so they know that from past experiences, all the way from elementary school to now, that they are used to those kinds of drills and that’s the whole point is that it has to be so standard and routine. We call that Standard Response Protocol, or SRP, so we know what to do, and we’ve learned these things since elementary,” said Romaguera.

Being safe from the pandemic is hard when you are doing drills that call for students and staff to be in close quarters together. Burke says that COVID-19 has changed a lot, but safety would be the biggest one.

“It is hard to social distance in the classroom to begin with, but when they ask you to ‘double up’ for severe weather drills, or hide in the corner and be silent during a lockdown drill, you basically are asking for more cases of COVID,” Burke states.

As the year continues, COVID-19 cases, on a local and national level, will hopefully get better, to where we can go back to and return to some sense of normalcy. People don’t see the future, let alone predict it, but they can be aware of all the possibilities, and be able to plan accordingly.