Illinois HB2400 now requires notification of lockdown drills


On Friday, October 29th, JTHS informed West campus families and students of a scheduled lockdown drill to take place on November 2.

Alih Rangel and Marissa Levandowski

On August 16, 2021, a law was passed in Illinois that states that parents or guardians of a student should be notified before a lockdown drill is to occur in school. Governor J.B. Pritzker signed Illinois House Bill 2400, which also gives students and parents the option to opt-out of lockdown drills. 

This new bill makes some changes to the current School Safety Drill Act in an attempt to better protect Illinois students. House Bill 2400 works to reform the current active shooter drills that schools use.

With this new bill, all lockdowns must be planned out in advance, and parents and guardians must be notified. Additionally, live-action simulations cannot take place while students are present in the school building.

Ms. Wooten, assistant principal at Joliet West high school says, “Schools must provide sufficient information and notice to parents in advance of any walk-through lockdown drill involving student participation and provide an opportunity for parents to exempt their child for any reason from participating.”

Walkthrough lockdown drills are also now required to be trauma-informed and age-appropriate to address the concern and well-being of students. Staff specializing in mental health must be included in the planning of the drill as well as the execution.

Yazmin Nielsen, the parent of a junior at Joliet West High School and a seventh-grader at Troy Middle School, speaks of how the new law passed can benefit the mental state of students. “At that age, they have a right to not participate in those kinds of drills if the reason has to do with mental health, because it will cause some anxiety or it will be a traumatizing event,” Nielsen says. “It’s a choice. We don’t really know what’s going on in the students head, and sometimes [an active shooter drill] can just be more traumatizing than helpful.”

While some members of school communities have raised concerns over the House Bill, Ms. Wooten believes it is a benefit to students. “I believe the new requirements to the bill will help to provide students with social emotional support, as well as, increased communication regarding situational awareness of their surroundings and potential hazards within and outside of school.”

Katie Dakalis, a junior at Joliet West High School, says, “ I think students should have the ability to opt out, but I don’t think it should be encouraged.” 

This new bill has taken effect at Joliet West, with a planned lockdown drill for November 2 being announced to students and guardians via email. The announcement sent on October 28, explains that parents or guardians need to contact the attendance office no later than 2 p.m. on the day before the drill to opt-out their student.