But running has its risks, because one never knows if the shooter will be along the escape route, and young children might be hard to keep quiet or control in an evacuation, increasing the risk of evacuation, while sheltering in place has fewer risks if the room is secure. “We’re talking about in K-12, with maybe the exception of the lunchroom or the gymnasium, those rooms lock. Even in many of those cases, those rooms lock. And if they don’t, we’re usually putting the kids in the kitchen or in locker rooms,” says Paul Timm, PSP, president of RETA Security.
Bob Lang, assistant vice president for strategic safety and security at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, sees evacuations as one viable option, depending on the circumstances. His school trains teachers to plan out possible evacuations. “So we are training them in what to do when they first walk into their new facility and new classroom and what to look for relative to escape routes...what to look for in figuring out how to get people out.”
In training and conducting drills with the students to prepare them for evacuations during an active-shooter situation, it’s important to stress that those evacuation routes might differ from the ones used daily or during a fire drill, Klinger says. They’ll also need to be taught that doors and windows that they normally wouldn’t think of using might be something they’d need in this unique type of threat situation.
The key is “to make sure kids understand there [are] multiple ways out of a room or out of an area. Especially areas like gyms or cafeterias, where you have large numbers of kids. They’re going to try to go out whatever door they came in as opposed to the four or five other doors that might also lead them to safety,” Klinger says.