On Friday, April 20 Jake Mailhiot, 16, posted this photo on Twitter of desks, chairs and other furniture piled high over the door to the classroom where he was studying psychology when the school was alerted of an active shooter on campus. This makeshift door barricade was used to block the entrance into the classroom to keep students inside safe.
The school shooting at Jake’s high school is Osceola, FL was the 20th U.S. incident in 2018. Students were preparing to walk out as part of a national protest against gun violence shortly before shots were fired.
Jake Mailhiot’s classroom isn’t the first to create a makeshift barricade during an active shooter event. In fact, this same procedure is followed by schools across the U.S. and has been for years. Some schools even hold drills to have students practice building barricades to stop intruders and keep classrooms safe.
Most active shooter response plans include a “shelter in place” type response. This means students and teachers stay in their classroom or find the nearest classroom and get away from the door. When makeshift barricades are used, this requires students and teachers to stay near the door to stack and build this protection which puts them at risk. In addition, building this type of barricade and the time it takes to complete can cause more safety concerns. In the time it takes to build a barricade of this size, a shooter can easily enter the room and open fire. And what if the nearest classroom doesn’t have enough desks or chairs to build a barricade in the first place? Does this mean that teachers and students unfortunate enough to be in that position must fight to survive?
The one thing all these scenarios have in common is that door barricades can and should be used to keep students and teachers safe but desk and chairs should not be an option. Instead, schools should invest in actual door barricade devices and not expect teachers and students to build their own.
If your school is looking to add safety devices, or if you are a teacher looking to invest in your own protection, ensure the classroom safety device you choose meets these criteria.
What are your thoughts - do you think desks and chairs are enough to keep students safe or should schools invest in door barricade devices? Join in the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.