There's a tense cloud over American schools at the moment. In light of the recent Parkland shooting, where 14 students and three teachers were killed, students have been returning to school with trepidation at best, and utter terror at worst. 

 

Lacey Garner, a high school teacher in Atlanta, Georgia, captured these tensions in a tragic Facebook post. 

 

The fire alarm went off in her school, it was not a drill. The teachers and students were too petrified to move. 

 

"Our first thought wasn't to exit the building, but to wonder if this was the start to a very dark afternoon," she wrote. 

 

 

Instead of reacting to the fire alarm using their drill procedures, the students and staff stood waiting. 

 

"For 30-60 seconds after the alarm started, the hallways were dead. Not one teacher instantly thought to abide by ‘fire drill’ procedures." 

 

Eventually, Garner realised that she had to bring her students outside. The terrified teenagers begged her not to leave the room.

 

"I had high school students begging me not to take them outside because, 'what if it was a setup for a shooting?'

 

"Sixteen year old students began to tear up as I told them we were going to leave the class and walk outside." 

 

 

One student even muttered the heart-breaking words; “I don’t want to die.”

 

Garner took the students hands and walked out herself first. 

 

"I held hands of students and held them behind me as we walked out of the school, all the while repeating in my head, 'please don’t let this be it...please don’t let this be it.'

 

"Aloud, I promised kids they were going to be okay." 

 

Walking back into the building, the alarm sounded again, they feared for their lives. 

 

"The same confusion, dread, and fear overcame the students. Some ran for classrooms. Others ran for doors." 

 

 

The alarm was caused by dust in the gym's smoke alarm. 

 

Garner cites the recent climate of fear in school as the reason for the mass panic set off by a mere smoke alarm. 

 

"This is the climate in schools around the country right now. It’s not okay. 

 

"Kids are scared. Teachers are scared." 

 

In the event of another horrific massacre such as we saw in Florida, Garner says that teachers are ready to give their lives to protect their students. 

 

"We are doing our best. Every teacher I know would die trying to save your children." 

 

School should be a safe space for learning and growth. Educators should nurture and feed each child's unique talents- not act as a potential bullet shield. 

 

As Garner concludes, "Demand change. Fix this sh*t." 

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