With the recent incidents of school house violence in Nevada and Massachusetts, the necessity of a safety drill Thursday at a Pflugerville school became even more important for those who organized it.
With Halloween only a few days away, teachers and staff at Barron Elementary School dressed up in holiday costumes. That was a treat for the students- but there was also a trick. A fire drill Thursday morning came with a twist usual exits were blocked.
It was an opportunity to teach the students a potentially lifesaving lesson; expect the unexpected. When the alarms went off the students at Barron did not disappoint their principal, Jose Medina. They passed the test.
"That's who were are and we are ready for anything, it doesn't matter, we didn't show you something that we're not," said Medina.
The drill at the Pflugerville School is part of a statewide -safe school week.
While this was only a drill there have been two cases of school this week across the nation, and as a result two teachers are dead.
Monday a Nevada math teacher was killed while trying to stop a shooting rampage. The alleged gunman is a middle school student. A day later investigators say a Massachusetts high school teacher was allegedly murdered by one of her students. These incidents can renew calls for a more extensive use of metal detectors in schools. Thursday- state education commissioner Michael Williams was at the Pflugerville safety drill. He's open to the idea of metal detectors but not as a mandate.
"That makes sense for some local communities, but other strategies make sense for them as well, that is a decision everyone will be evaluating but there are a whole lot of strategies that make sense," said Williams.
One extreme school safety measure involves allowing guns on campus. A few school districts in Texas have joined a growing trend of letting some staff employees and teachers carry guns, if they go through special certification training.
Other strategies are intense. Active shooter training exercises are offered to help school districts and local police learn how to react to the nightmare scenario. But could this kind of training also be traumatizing for the children it's designed to protect? Not necessarily so, according to Victoria Calder, the director of the Texas School Safety Center.
"So children actually feel empowered when they know what to do, rather than frighten," said Calder.
A safety drill like the one Calder saw in Pflugerville may not stop the chaos, but it can help a child keep their emotions in check during the crisis.
"If the first time they do that is the day their lives depend on doing that well, they will lose some measure of survivability," said Calder.
That's harsh lesson to learn but one that has now become part of the regular school day.