CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Teachers across the state are going through active shooter training before school starts but, for some, the experience of physically simulating someone shooting at them has been traumatizing.
Some are emotionally upset that they have to prepare to face violence head on. Others say this training empowered them in a way nothing else has before.
Central High School Special Education Teacher Moriah Ward says, “It gets you in the mindset of there’s someone in here with a gun. It’s not something you expect or anticipate when you walk into your job.”
In the training they’re shown statistics on school shootings and what happens when people aren’t prepared or when they fight back. They also have to practice shooter simulations where a gunman fires at them.
Ward says, “It made me not want to be there. Seeing my coworkers upset isn’t something that I anticipated would be part of my job. It’s not something that should be part of my job.”
Tears filled her eyes as she thought about the reality of preparing for the possibility of facing life or death. For Ward, this training is traumatizing and emotionally draining. But she and other teachers also recognize its importance. Ward says, “The reality is, not doing any kind of training or drill is not smart. There has to be some kind of preparation.”
Central High School Teacher Carolyn Kodes says, “I think it’s vital. I understand it is traumatizing for some people. I don’t have the answer to that. But just like we train for fire drills, we have to train for this because it is a reality, sadly.”
She has a different point of view after the training. She says, ‘For me the idea of doing something is empowering. I don’t have to wait to be shot.” But the reason behind why this training is necessary is what makes them so upset. Kodes says, “It’s horrifying that the one place kids are meant to feel safe, they can’t.”
Ward says, despite what they have to go through, there’s one reason she continues to do her job. “If teachers weren’t committed or invested in their kids, people would’ve quit after that training because this is not what we signed up for. It’s not what I signed up for but I love my students and I’m committed to them.”
Mike Sitch, the Vice President of the Champaign Federation of Teachers, says he wants to see the school district focus on proactive prevention in addition to preparing to how to react in a school shooting. Some suggestions were better building security and mental health services.
Students are now required to go through active shooter training in school starting this year. It has to be done no later than 90 days after the first day of school. Officials say kids won’t be put through the same simulations as teachers. A date has not been set in the Champaign School District yet, but parents will be notified beforehand.