Web Exclusive: Book helps elementary students understand lockdown drills

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CORTLAND, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Lockdown drills are how schools now try to prepare our children from an unpredictable threat, but they can be scary for little ones.

“Quite often, we would find after we released a class from a lockdown drill, they would have anxieties, some were crying, some race up to me and hug. It wasn’t because they love Officer Reyngoudt. They were nervous,” said Officer Rob Reyngoudt.

With no standard template on how to explain lockdown drills to young children, Officer Reyngoudt did some research and came up with this.

He helps ready children with a story.

Reyngoudt said, “It’s called ‘The Lockdown Drill’ and it’s written by a police officer who works in a school like I do.”

Using simple language and rhymes.

“Less crying. Actually I didn’t see an crying after I did it last year with the students, which tells me a lot,” Reyngoudt said.

“It’s a delicate balance, isn’t it? You want to prepare the kids, but you don’t want to frighten them,” Christie Casciano asked.

“So we take it in small steps, and get them used to the reason why we need to be safe in school and progress them to the point where we feel good about them performing the drill and being safe during those drills,” said Principal Lisa Kaup.

And back in the classroom, it’s time for questions.

“When I first became an SRO 15 years ago, a lot of people thought in the schools, we don’t want to teach these kids about lockdowns ‘cause it’s going to scare them and give them nightmares,” Reyngoudt said. “I think we can do it appropriately, without raising to that level of anxiety. It’s important that we do.”

Making a tough topic a little easier to tackle.

The elementary school does four lockdown drills a year. They let everyone know about the first one, including parents, to really help prepare the children. Principal Kaup also visits each classroom at the beginning of the school year, reads a book about safety and opens it up for questions.

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