After Recent School Shootings, Teachers Ask Public for Help Buying Safety Supplies
In the wake of several deadly school shootings last school year, more teachers are turning to crowdfunding sites like Donors Choose to ask for help purchasing emergency supplies for their classrooms—things like first-aid kits and door barricades.
"After Santa Fe and after Parkland, kids were asking, 'Well what would we do if something happened here?'" Anne-Lise McCarver, an English-as-a-second-language teacher at Chateau Estates School in Kenner, La., said in an interview.
After going through an armed intruder training at her own school, McCarver decided she wanted to "make sure that all rooms are as safe as possible."
In late August, she started a project on Donors Choose asking for heavy-duty rubber door stoppers for every classroom in her school. Usually used to hold doors open, they can also be wedged on the inside of a door to impede outside entry. In the same project, McCarver is also fundraising for classroom fire extinguishers.
While McCarver says she could have purchased supplies for one or two classrooms using her own money, she didn't have the funds to outfit the entire school. "Hopefully, we don't need to use any of these emergency supplies," she said. "But just having them there will make kids feel safer."
Several other teachers have requested classroom barricades through Donors Choose, including defense systems for classroom entryways that prevent doors from swinging out or doorknobs from turning.
A teacher in Kansas City, Mo., plans to use the door jams to secure the entrance to her kindergarten classroom and the closet door inside. "This security system will allow me to focus on my 20 kindergarten students and their well-being," she wrote on her project description. "Students in [kindergarten] deserve to feel safe and secure at school."
Other teachers are fundraising for emergency supplies to support and comfort students during lockdowns—water and nonperishable snacks, first-aid kits, and convertible, portable toilets in the event that students are confined to the classroom for several hours.
"Due to the recent events in our nation, we are all on edge, trying to figure out ways to protect our children in schools," wrote Jennifer O'Keefe, a teacher at Fred T. Foard High School in Newton, N.C., on the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe. She started fundraising for these "emergency buckets" of lockdown supplies in February.
Policymakers have been quick to suggest measures from passing stricter gun laws to arming teachers to placing metal detectors in schools. As Education Week has reported, some schools have added more physical security protections to their buildings in the wake of this year's shootings. A recent meeting of the federal school safety commission focused on making school more like a "citadel."
But some school safety experts and education leaders have cautioned against intense security precautions, arguing that they can make school feel less welcoming.
"No matter what your opinion is on these matters, they are all going to take time to pass through legislation," O'Keefe wrote on her project page. "I want to do something NOW." O'Keefe planned to put together 960 buckets to distribute to all of the teachers in the county, she told WFMY News 2.
"I don't think there's a need for anyone to feel helpless or paralyzed," said McCarver, the teacher in Louisiana. "I think there's always ways that we can be proactive and take steps, and this is one of those ways."