I couldn’t let National Emergency Preparedness Month end without addressing a very real (and sickening) possible situation that schools need to be prepared for these days. While I grew up having fire drills and earthquake drills (yes, I’m a California native), my kids’ schools have lockdown drills just as often as fire and earthquake drills.
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For those who aren’t aware, a school lockdown situation is when there is a threat (animal, person, etc) on or near a school campus, and all classes are to remain in their school classrooms with their doors locked, windows covered, and lights off.
As horrible as it is to think about having an active shooter on a school campus, it has unfortunately become a reality that we cannot ignore.
I know that most (or hopefully all) school districts have some sort of lockdown procedures in place. If not, I would urge you to get involved and see what you can do to change that. This is a very real threat, but lives can be saved if there is a plan in place for when such things happen.
Depending on the situation, there are many variations to a school’s lockdown procedures.
The few things I mentioned earlier are the basic components of a lockdown situation.
- Lock the classroom door(s)
- Cover the window(s)
- Turn off the lights
But have you ever considered what happens next?
Depending on the situation, these students and teachers can be on lockdown for several hours.
This may not seem like a huge deal other than them being scared out of their minds, but what happens when someone has to go to the bathroom? What if the lockdown happens 5 minutes before they were supposed to go to lunch, and the students’ backpacks are all outside the classroom, hanging neatly on their hooks, inaccessible for the duration of the lockdown? The teachers are instructed to cover the windows, but do they have something in place, ready to do this immediately?
These are questions I have asked myself every time my kids come home and say they had another lockdown drill at school.
One day I got online and read stories from people who had gone through it. It was incredibly sobering. It made me think that I wanted to do anything I could do to alleviate stress and chaos for any teacher or student who might ever have to go through this terrifying situation. A friend and I got together and collaborated on a teacher gift that year.
We asked a few other parents to go in on it with us, and we put together a lockdown kit for a Christmas gift for our kids’ teacher that year. It was such a hit that I did it the following year for all 3 of my school-aged kids’ teachers.
I can’t speak for the teachers who received these gifts, but as a parent, I can tell you there has been no teacher gift I have given that has made me feel better than this has.
Since it ends up being well over the amount of money I normally spend on a teacher gift, asking other parents if they’d like to go in on it has been a great way to still be able to make this happen.
So…what do you need?
Let’s start with the two things for safety:
1 – Backup Locking Mechanism
Locking the classroom doors is the first thing that should be done. Hopefully the classroom door already locks. If it doesn’t, this is an ESSENTIAL part of your kit. Even if it does lock, this little contraption makes me feel better to have as a backup. I researched lots of different products out there. While a lot of them are really good, the really cool ones require you to mount something to the wall like this one, or install something into the classroom carpet. I didn’t want to have to get approval for anything like that, and it seemed less likely that the teacher would actually install these things and use them. On top of that, they can be pretty pricey. So I was relieved to find the Addalock!This thing is genius. It is SO super easy – it takes about 2 seconds to install. You open the door, stick it in the strike plate of the door, close the door, and drop the handle. Even I did it, first try. Which is saying a LOT for the ease of the process! And it is fairly inexpensive. $21.95 to have added security in a life and death situation for 30 kids and a teacher is a small price to pay. And they even have a 2-pack which brings them down to less than $20 a piece. They come in a little Velcro case, so if you are buying for multiple teachers, you can split them up from the 2-pack, and they are still in their own individual case.A couple things to note:
- The Addalock works for an INWARD-closing door.
- It also needs to fit between the door and door frame (it is very slim, so I can’t imagine there are very many doors out there where this wouldn’t fit, but I would purchase this early and go slip it in your child’s classroom door just to be sure it fits.
- Some classrooms have two doors – one to the outside and one that goes out into a “pod.” Be sure to consider all doors in the room.
(Can I just go on a quick tangent here? This is actually something I REALLY wished I had when I had toddlers. You know when you’re trying to get them to stay in their bed and go to sleep, once they transition out of a crib? But then I realized it’s for inward-swinging doors. So before you go buy one for your toddler’s bedroom, be sure and think that one through! However, they would work for added security for your front door, a bathroom door, a hotel room door, dorm door, etc).
2 – Window Covering(s)
The next thing is a window covering. Maybe the teacher already has a plan in place. Maybe the teachers at your school have a pre-cut piece of fabric and duct tape ready to slap up over their window(s) in the event of a lockdown. But…if they don’t…this is also an essential part of the lockdown procedure, and depending on the location of the threat, time is definitely of the essence for this one. I would not want my child’s teacher to have to quickly figure out a way to cover the window(s) of the classroom, when faced with such a terrifying situation. Most large windows have mini blinds from what I’ve observed. But those pesky little windows in the doors don’t.
You have 2 options here. The important thing is to have something ALREADY IN PLACE that requires seconds on the teacher’s part, to put it into action.
Option #1 – DIY – cheap and gets the job done. This is a cool tutorial on how to make your own window covering out of paper.
Option #2 – More expensive but absolutely adorable and makes this kit feel more like a gift to the teacher. These handmade window coverings are the most adorable window coverings I’ve ever seen! This girl’s Etsy shop has several different fabric options, along with different border color options, and also has an option for personalization. A-DOR-ABLE! These are $30 and have free shipping. And the quality is incredible. And this is actually something that would be a super cute gift to give a teacher anyway! It doesn’t even feel lockdown-y. So I just love this part of the kit!
3 – Bathroom
I know this is not a pleasant thought, but when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go. Can you imagine how mortifying it would be to need to use the restroom during a lockdown, and having to go to the bathroom in a trashcan, with makeshift privacy?
While this is not a life and death condition of a lockdown, it is certainly an issue not to be ignored. If a class were under this kind of stress, I would not want the kids to then have to deal with the embarrassment of going to the bathroom in a trashcan in front of their peers.
So what is the solution?
A bucket with a toilet seat (and don’t forget the liners)!
I like THIS kit. It is totally affordable and comes with everything you need (bucket, seat, liners, wipes, chemicals, toilet paper, gloves). I have seen sturdier seats than this particular one, but it does the job and it’s cheap.
4 – Privacy for Bathroom
Again, you have 2 options.
- The cheap option: get a tarp and a roll of duct tape. If the teacher ever needs to use this kit, I’m sure they could find a way to make this work. The overall price of a tarp and a roll of duct tape is about $17.
- The more expensive but more AMAZING option: THESE ARE AWESOME, and would be SO much easier for a teacher to use than trying to rig up a tarp and duct tape. Again, when you consider the possibility of them actually having to use this kit, I think it is worth the extra $15 to make things as easy as possible. These partitions accordion up into practically nothing, and a teacher could stick it behind a cabinet and forget that it’s even there. But then if the need ever presented itself, it would be SO easy to just pull it out and set it out. Done. Easy. No stress involved.
The brown 4-foot tall ones are $29 and then it is $12 to ship, so it ends up being $41. However, I ordered 3 of them, and total shipping was reduced to $7.33 each. So the more you buy, the cheaper per partition it is to ship!
5 – Drinks and Snacks
As I mentioned earlier, some classes keep their backpacks outside their classroom. Even if backpacks are inside the classroom, what about all those kids who planned on buying a lunch that day? Having a flat of water and a box of snacks is easy, cheap, and again, totally worth it to have in the classroom just in case. Be sure to be mindful of any allergies of classmates.
5 – Activity
If you want to add an activity to do, I think that would be really fun. You would want to make it something that doesn’t take up a lot of space, and something that wouldn’t expire or dry out. Also keep in mind that it is usually recommended that everyone stay very quiet, so don’t provide a loud game where people would want to be shouting back and forth across the room or anything.
Even something as simple as cool coloring pages would give the kids something to do to take their mind off the stress of the situation. And coloring is an activity for all ages…
Oh! And the food reminds me. Want to know something else that makes this gift SO GREAT?! It is something the teacher can use year after year after year! The ONLY thing the teacher will need to rotate is the food and water. The rest of it will be good forever. It really is the gift that keeps on giving.
If the price tag of this teacher gift is a deterrent, that is another reason why you ABSOLUTELY SHOULD give this to teachers this year! Don’t put the financial burden of these items on your kids’ teachers; take this off their plate, come together as parents, and give the gift of classroom safety for Christmas this year. In fact, everybody wins here. The teachers win because they actually get a worthwhile gift, and you as parents win because now you don’t have to scour Pinterest for hours, looking for the perfect teacher gift for Christmas. Not to mention that every single student benefits from this, knowing that there are a few more safety measures and comfort items ready to go, should a real lockdown situation arise.
To share the cost of this kit, you can
- Ask a few other parents for money, and you take care of getting everything together
- Divide the items up and assign each person a different component of the kit
Below is a recap of all the things I would recommend for this kit with approximate prices to help you plan and decide how many other parents to ask to go in on the gift.
- ($20) Backup Locking Mechanism (Addalock on Amazon, here is the 2-pack)
- ($30) Window Covering (Etsy)
- ($27) Portable potty bucket / liners / chemicals / toilet paper / wipes / gloves
- ($40/$17) Privacy Partition OR Tarp & Duct Tape
- ($20) Snacks – I just picked a couple boxes of things up at Costco
- ($8) Drinks – again, Costco
- Book / Activity