Keeping Students with Disabilities Safe in Lockdowns, Evacuations, and School Crises

StudentsWithDisabilitiesThe skills needed by students to handle a drill or actual crisis include:

  • Maintaining silence
  • Following directions very quickly
  • Maintaining a position/location
  • Managing feelings of stress/frustration without acting out
  • Managing schedule changes

Any one of these skills can be extremely problematic – if not impossible – for children with disabilities unless they are taught the necessary skills and provided required accommodations (including sensory supports, medical supports, and behavioral supports).

With lockdowns and evacuation drills becoming a regular occurrence in schools, students with disabilities are often faced with disruptions of routine, unrealistic behavior expectations, accessibility problems, and other challenges that may not have been addressed in IEPs and remove necessary supports.

Dr. Dusty Columbia Embury and Dr. Laura Clarke, who have both written about safety and students with disabilities, answer some questions about how schools should include these students in planning for unexpected events.