Bill Aims To Make Schools Safer

By: Brian Johnson Email
By: Brian Johnson Email

Students at Waverly High School Wednesday were donating blood and thinking about safety. Hanna Holmi says she's unnerved by recent school shootings.

"It's been really scary," said Holmi, a senior. "Waverly has always provided a safe spot for us at school and I have never felt unsafe at Waverly."

A bill moving through the Michigan House would require one out of ten safety drills each year be done when many students aren't in the classroom, like lunch, recess, or perhaps a blood drive.

"It's a brilliant idea because that's probably the most likely time for those things to occur is when there is kind of a more chaotic situation in the school," said Chris Huff, the Assistant Principal at Waverly High School.

The bill would also require an additional lockdown drill, and eliminate a fire drill, meaning 5 fire drills, two tornado drills, and three lockdowns each academic year.

"How can you argue with student safety?" said Terry Urquhart, the Superintendent of Waverly Schools. "Adding the additional lockdown drill I think is a good idea. Obviously that's the most severe situation if that ever happens on your campus. You want to be able to practice it so you can conduct the drill as best as possible and make sure your kids are safe."

If the bill becomes law, one of the tornado drills would be required to happen in March, when the storms are more likely.

Besides modifying drills, the bill also requires schools to report each drill within five school days on the school's website. Parents could see the reports online, holding schools accountable.

"It updates and modernizes the type of drills. It modernizes the reporting process and it streamlines the reporting process," said Rep. Joseph Graves, a Republican from Argentine Township. "In the light of all the emergencies and catastrophes we've had in schools, we [need to] make sure we are doing everything here in Michigan to protect our children. I'm a father of four and grandfather of 12. It's important to me."

Superintendent Urquhart said you can never be overly prepared when it comes to safety.

"I think it will improve communication about safety and eventually it will also improve safety," said Urquhart.

Holmi also likes the idea.

"It's just really safe to have a plan and have kids feel secure," said Holmi. "I feel like doing the extra [lockdown drill] will just give us the extra security that we need."

After some changes, the bill was approved in committee this week. It now goes to the entire House for consideration.

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