ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Some state lawmakers are looking to make changes to the number of mandated lockdown drills in schools throughout New York State. Over the last several months, the proposed measure has drawn some pushback.
The legislation was initially introduced by two New York City area lawmakers with concerns over the emotional response to these drills from students.
If passed, the bill would change the frequency of mandated school lockdown drills from four per year to one.
It has passed the Senate, but remains stalled in the Assembly. Some are against the measure, saying they don’t support it as it is currently written.
The bill would also allow parents to opt out of allowing their children to partake in the exercises over concerns of subjecting students to anxiety and trauma.
“Reducing the number of drills in a school building is not something I support currently. But, I do believe some of the things included in the legislation like ensuring that the drills are age-appropriate, that parents are involved to prepare their kids for what will happen in that drill, and ensuring students to understand why these drills have to happen, and what they have to do, is critically important,” said Assemblymember Josh Jensen (R – 134th Assembly District).
The bill is also lacking support from the New York State Parent Teacher Association, or NYS PTA, where leaders feel repetition is needed while also supporting the social and emotional needs of students.
“By doing it just once, we’re not sure that really gets to what we have to do to protect our students best. We really applaud the sponsors of this legislation for taking this issue on because it is very complicated. But, we really want to move all school districts to a trauma-informed kind of approach to lockdowns,” said Kyle Belokopitsky, executive director of the NYS PTA, “By having the opportunity to have more lockdown drills that are trauma-informed, we can really help students. And sadly, I wish we didn’t have to have any, but we can help students prepare for the absolute worst.”
One of the lawmakers behind the bill, Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon (D – 52nd Assembly District), issued the following statement:
“New York has one of the highest lockdown drill mandates in the nation despite the fact that there is almost no research to support their efficacy after more than 20 years of implementation throughout the country. We should be using evidence-based policy to prevent gun violence and keep our students safe, not forcing kids to participate in drills that inflict stress and anxiety. My bill reduces this excessive, ineffective mandate from 4 to 1, but school districts may conduct more drills if they choose to do so. The bill also ensures that drills are age-appropriate, trauma-informed, and that parents are notified in advance. That’s why the bill has the support of pediatricians, Moms Demand Action, students, and gun violence prevention advocates.”
State lawmakers won’t return to Albany until January when the bill is expected to be re-introduced.
If it is passed, it would take effect July 1 of that year, or the upcoming year.