5 Tips to Lockdown Safety for Disabled Students

Lockdown Drills: Today’s Norm

A group of people sitting in front of each other.

School Lock down and drills are becoming the norm these days especially with recent tragedies in Uvalde, Texas.

School and campus leadership is busily setting up their “school safety†plans. 

Students are used to these drills and come to expect them at least on a quarterly basis. Most students know exactly what to do once hearing that sound overhead. 

But what about our students with disabilities? These students are sometimes missed when considerations are taken for lockdowns. 

Some of these students cannot hear the sound.

Some of them have low vision and are not able to get to safety without assistance. 

Students in wheelchairs that cannot propel independently and that are hooked up to ventilators cannot get to safety without assistance either!

How do students who are immobile get out of their chairs to get under a table or to a corner?

According to Campus Safety Magazine, there are some things to consider when creating a safety plan for students with disabilities. 


  1. Seek input from the students. Many times they will be able to provide perspective on problems that arise during a lockdown and can be part of the solution. 


  1. Seek input from parents. Most parents know how to keep their children calm during stressful situations and many times use headphones, relaxation apps, and kinesthetic gadgets. 


  1. Create a special kit. It is important to have items in a special kit prepared for students that may have outbursts and may bolt during a lockdown. Items like: Suckers, headphones, fidget gadgets, comfort items like teddy bears ect. Wipes and kleenex are important for unexpected accidents. Some online companies sell “LockDown†kits that include sanitation supplies along with food and water. Lockdowns can last quite a while until the “all-clear†is given. These kits would be good to have onsite for all students. 


  1. Have appropriate training and drills for students with disabilities  that may include visual aids, hand signals, storytelling on a regular basis so they become part of the weekly/daily regime.


  1. Consider developing Individual safety plans for specific students with special circumstances and train all staff in what the plan includes. Some schools call this the PEP (or personal emergency plan) and they can be incorporated into the students IEP with the input of educators and the caregiver. 


Overall, it is important for school administration to fully understand the challenges that students with disabilities face during lockdowns. It would be wise for the principal or other school staff to actually maneuver in a wheelchair around the school so they can understand lock downs from this perspective. (as just one example)  


Hopefully schools can use thoughtful inclusion when considering a safety plan for students with disabilities. 

Using Shelter Shutters on classroom windows helps all students to feel more safe during a lockdown and they are easy to use. Even a student with short stature or sitting in a wheelchair can operate the window covering if needed.