by Bash Sarmiento, 2023

School shootings are a devastating and all-too-common reality in the United States. As administrators, we have an obligation to be prepared for these horrific events and ensure the safety of our students.

In this article, we will provide 12 tips for administrators on how to best respond to school shootings. With these guidelines, administrators can protect their schools and make sure that everyone is as safe as possible in such a dire situation.

Tips for Administrators Responding to School Shootings

1) Develop a comprehensive crisis plan.

It is essential to have a plan in place for how the school administrators will respond in the event of a school shooting. This plan should include how administrators will communicate with students and faculty quickly and efficiently, as well as what resources are available for those affected by the tragedy. It should also include steps for conducting a lockdown, if necessary.

2) Install security measures.

As we all know, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Administrators should install security measures such as metal detectors, surveillance cameras, and closed-circuit TV systems in order to protect the school community and prevent future incidents.  You should also have resources and personnel in place to respond quickly to any threats.

3) Educate staff and students about school safety.

Administrators should take proactive steps to educate staff and students about school safety, including how to respond in the event of a shooting. This could include training sessions on what to do during a lockdown, emergency drills, or providing online resources on school safety.

4) Encourage open conversation.

Administrators should encourage open conversation and dialogue among staff, students, and families so that everyone can express their feelings and concerns in a safe environment. This could include setting up forums or discussion groups where people can express their thoughts and feelings about school safety. 

5) Make use of social media.

Social media can be a powerful tool for administrators to use in responding to school shootings. This could include posting updates about the shooting, providing resources for those affected by the tragedy, and using social media to communicate with everyone in the community.

6) Establish communications systems.

Make sure all teachers, staff members, and administrators have reliable systems in place for communicating with one another during emergency events such as lockdowns or evacuations. Having predetermined contact lists with backup plans will ensure swift responses when necessary.  

7) Implement lockdown drills.

Just like fire drills, it’s important to conduct regular lockdown drills so that everyone is aware of what actions must be taken if there is an active shooter situation on campus grounds. During these drills, practice securing interior rooms within seconds and making sure everyone is accounted for during emergencies. 

8) Know your evacuation routes

Make sure all teachers are familiar with multiple routes out of the building in case an evacuation is necessary due to an active shooter event or some other type of emergency situation occurring on campus grounds. Ensure these routes lead away from danger, and make sure they are known by all faculty members at a minimum. 

9) Encourage anonymous reporting.

Set up secure channels such as anonymous hotlines or electronic forms allowing individuals to safely voice their concerns without fear of retribution or reprisal. This can help uncover potential threats before they become full-fledged crises, protecting everyone involved in the process.  

10) Reach out quickly and effectively.

When responding to a school shooting, administrators should reach out quickly and effectively to ensure that all the members of the school community are informed and supported during this difficult time. This could include sending messages through emails or text alerts, organizing group counseling sessions, or setting up hotlines for anyone affected by the tragedy.

11) Connect with local law enforcement.

Local law enforcement teams should always be kept abreast of any developments surrounding school safety plans so they may assist if needed during active shooter events. Reach out regularly so police officers understand your procedures for addressing sensitive issues regarding student behavior, security protocols, and more – this will help them better assist you with any ensuing crises on campus grounds.  

12) Provide support for victims and families affected by the shooting.

After a school shooting, it is essential for administrators to provide support for those who were directly affected by the tragedy. This could include offering counseling services, setting up memorial services or vigils, or providing financial support to families who have lost loved ones. Administrators should also provide ongoing emotional and psychological support for those affected by the tragedy.

Wrapping Up

Administrators in the aftermath of a school shooting will have to make difficult decisions regarding the safety and security of their students. It is critical for them to stay informed about the latest developments as well as any changes in laws or regulations that may affect their schools. One of the most important things administrators can do is ensure they are aware of all available resources, such as mental health counselors and law enforcement so that they can provide assistance to those affected by the tragedy.

Additionally, it is your choice to keep yourselves updated on the shooter’s trial if he comes out alive from the shooting and gets incarcerated so that you can be sure justice has been served. As administrators work together to protect their students, these considerations are key when responding to a school shooting.