‘Age-appropriate’ drills, meant to prevent trauma, now law for NJ schools
TRENTON — Gov. Phil Murphy has signed into law a measure requiring school safety drills to be "age-appropriate" by prohibiting the use of fake blood, real or prop firearms, or simulations of gunshots or explosions in demonstrations.
In a release, the governor's office said those and other provisions in the legislation are designed to "prevent unnecessary trauma."
"Unfortunately, school security drills are a reality of the environment that our students are living in," Murphy was quoted as saying in the release.
The governor went on to say that the new law will "ensure that school security drills provide students with the information and preparedness that they need to stay safe in emergency situations, while also taking steps to prevent drills from having a harmful impact on the mental health of our schoolchildren."
Among the measure's other components are that students with disabilities and mental health conditions must have equal access to these drills and be provided with appropriate accommodations, and that parents or guardians will be given written notification of a security drill on the same day of its completion.
School districts are also being asked to take input from emergency personnel, parents and guardians, teachers and staff, mental health professionals, and student government representatives with regard to future updates to procedures.
The primary sponsors of the legislation, which was signed just prior to the expiration of the 2020-21 session, were Sens. Loretta Weinberg and Shirley Turner, and Assembly members Ralph Caputo, Louis Greenwald, and Pamela Lampitt.
Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.