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SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) advanced a measure through the Senate Education Committee Tuesday to allow a student’s parent to exempt them from school active shooter drills.

The legislation is in response to recent news regarding the effects active shooter drills in schools have on young children. It seeks to reduce the associated psychological effects by granting parents the authority to exempt students from the drill.

“While I support training for school staff and students, it’s critical that we take additional precautions for these drills, as fear of school shootings has intensified,” Bennett said. “These drills can sometimes be confusing for young students and psychologically distressing – if the circumstances permit, a parent should have the ability to opt their child out of a school shooter drill.”

Under current law, schools must conduct an annual active shooter drill within the first 90 days of school and only school administrators are allowed to exempt certain students from the drill.

To improve these drills, the National Association of School Psychologists and the National Association of School Resource Officers recommends schools develop a communications plan that gives all participants advance warning and the ability to opt out and provide feedback. It is also recommended that parents have advanced notice of the drill.

Studies also show that devoting resources to schools to help identify kids at risk from possibly becoming violent themselves is vital in keeping our kids safe. Bennett mentioned he would like that to be a part of the conversation during committee.

Senate Bill 3222 cleared committee 15-0. It will now go before the entire Senate.

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