New Minnesota law allows parents to opt students out of active shooter drills

(ABC 6 News) – A new law in Minnesota will be impacting schools across the state for the upcoming school year.

This law allows for parents to take their students out of active shooter drills, but few schools in southeast Minnesota still partake in these drills.

Schools across southeast Minnesota, including Rochester Public Schools, have not done active shooter drills since the early 2000’s. By state law, they are only mandated to do five lockdown intruder drills, five fire drills, and one tornado drill each school year.

Unfortunately active shooter drills in public schools is now a thing. It’s a simulated exercise with law enforcement and teachers preparing along side students in case they’re ever involved in the real thing.

In Fillmore county, superintendents and the sheriff’s office have said that these types of drills involving students haven’t been happening for years.

“Every school district is unique in how they approach their crisis management,” said Matt Schultz, superintendent of Lanesboro Public Schools. “But one really nice thing that we did last summer is that we had Fillmore County law enforcement here and then we had all of our superintendents from across the county here. And really that was all just information sharing.”

The Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office just took part in a active shooter simulation last month conducted by the FBI. While no school district within Fillmore County takes part in these active shooter drills, the Sherriff’s Office says the coordination between the school districts and their office is beneficial for when an actual emergency happens.

“It’s really positive for us in Fillmore County to have the communication that we do have between law enforcement and all of the school districts,” said John DeGeorge, Fillmore County Sheriff. “We don’t have conflict. We all have the same priorities which is to keep our students safe and provide the kind of environment where they can learn.”

But if all schools in Fillmore County resume active shooter drills — student’s can opt out with parents permission for some even just a simulation can be traumatizing

“I think any school district does some level of education for each individual student. A lot times it will be teacher led, so in a teachers class, a teachers classroom, talk to students about how they can keep themselves safe in events of emergencies,” said Schultz.

And even if law enforcement isn’t involved — they only want what’s best for students.

“Have a plan for what you’d do if things don’t go right. We don’t like to often think about the not just uncomfortable but dangerous and unpleasant situations in life. But it’s really important we prepare for them,” said Sheriff DeGeorge.

This new law does not impact the choice for families to opt out of any of the mandatory drills that the state ask all school districts to take part in each school year.