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Law mandating school safety drills is a welcome one

Published: Friday, July 12, 2013 9:31 a.m. CST

(MCT) — Preparation and knowledge are the keys to staying safe, whether you’re learning to chop an onion or escape an overnight fire. That’s why we applaud a new law requiring schools to hold safety drills that include what to do during a possible school shooting.

In a story about the law, The Associated Press said schools already conduct at least six drills a year, including for severe weather. The new law says law enforcement leaders also must include preparation for a potential shooting.

School shootings have made front-page headlines since the awful deaths in Littleton, Colo., in April 1999. The most recent involved the deaths of 26 children in a Connecticut grade school.

There have been other mass shootings in the U.S. — a parking lot in Arizona, a movie theater in Colorado — but it was an incident in Normal that brought home the issue in Central Illinois.

Last September, almost 2,000 students escaped Normal Community High School when a 14-year-old fired shots during a health class at the start of the school day. No one was injured, and the boy eventually was sent to a juvenile facility.

Our schools have a mandate in law and in common sense to make sure their students and faculty and staff are safe, and that safety programs are set up appropriately. More importantly, everyone — students, faculty, parents, police — need to know how the programs work in case another incident arises.

After the NCHS shooting, Superintendent Gary Niehaus noted several needed improvements: a better way to reunite kids with parents; better communication among staff, administration and police; and the possibility of metal detectors, among others.

And, a lot has been done in response to the hard lessons learned that day.

Putting those lessons, and others, into practice is why the new law is welcome. Schools can’t plan for every eventuality, but they can practice and be prepared for most of them.

Although practice makes perfect, we hope never to put that to a test.

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This editorial first appeared in The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Ill.

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©2013 The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Ill.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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