US teachers gear up to protect their classrooms in case of shooting


American teacher Kelsey Vidal carries a bulletproof backpack and a bar to block the classroom door to protect her students in case of an attack in her school.
American teacher Kelsey Vidal carries a bulletproof backpack and a bar to block the classroom door to protect her students in case of an attack in her school. © TikTok / mrsvidal6

A bulletproof backpack, a bar to block the classroom door and a bat: an American teacher in California took to TikTok to show her protective gear after the May 24 shooting in Uvalde, Texas, in which 19 schoolchildren and two teachers were killed. Kelsey Vidal believes it's best to "have a plan" for a potential attack, although she regrets that it's a necessary reality for American teachers.

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On March 24, an 18-year-old armed with a semi-automatic rifle killed 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. The gunman was later shot and killed by police. 

The massacre reignited the perennial debate about gun violence in the United States, where shootings are an almost everyday occurrence in public places.

In the aftermath, some American teachers went online to explain how they have prepared to protect themselves and their students in the case of a shooting at their schools. In the video below, California elementary school teacher Kelsey Vidal shows two bulletproof plates inside her backpack.

@mrsvidal6 Bulletproof backpack I keep in my first grade classroom. I keep this closest to the door easily accessible. It has a two plates and a vest inside. #teacher #school #teachersoftiktok #survivefirstgrade #teacherlife #teach #safety #schoolsafety #firstgrade #firstgradeteacher ♬ original sound - Kelsey Vidal
Kelsey vidal shares a video of her bulletproof backpack on TikTok.

'A lot of people were also shocked that this is what I have to have in my classroom to be safe and to protect my kids'

Kelsey Vidal has shared several videos like this one on her TikTok account.

Originally, I put something on my Instagram after the Uvalde shooting, just saying how sad it is to see this happening again in our country, and how in order for me to be safe, I have to have a bulletproof backpack, a bat and a "Barracuda" bar in my classroom. Then I had some fellow teachers who were curious and I figured I could make a video just to show what I had.

@mrsvidal6 This is a tour of my classroom safety tools I have to keep my kids safe. This is one way to survive first grade… #teacher #school #teachersoftiktok #survivefirstgrade #teacherlife #teach #safety #schoolsafety #firstgrade #firstgradeteacher ♬ original sound - Kelsey Vidal
In this video, viewed more than three million times, Kelsey Vidal shows the cubby where she stores her equipment, as well as a bag provided by her school with first aid supplies.

A lot of people were also shocked that this is what I have to have in my classroom to be safe and to protect my kids.

People from Australia, the UK, Canada were saying that the fact I have to prepare like I'm going to war is heart-breaking. And I couldn't disagree that it looks like I'm going to war. It shouldn't be like that, but it's what I'm doing to keep my kids safe because it could actually happen. 

Some of the reactions that I got form the videos were really positive. People were also giving tips on how to best use the equipment. It was giving parents and teachers good ideas on what they need for their classroom, or what to buy for their child's teacher.

An example of the advice Vidal received on her TikTok videos.
An example of the advice Vidal received on her TikTok videos. © TikTok

I got all the materials three years ago. It was my first year teaching. The year I got it, we did ALICE training [Editor's note: ALICE is an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. The ALICE Training Institute provides safety training to U.S. schools]. They separated us into two groups, each in a classroom, and told us we had five minutes to barricade the door. We used cables, chairs, desks to barricade the door but they still got in. I remember feeling scared and thinking, 'In a true scenario, you wouldn't have five minutes to look for materials and grab things to lock the door.'

I got home and told my family and we started doing research and came up with the tools that were quick and easy to use. 

My family got me the bulletproof backpack because it looks like a normal backpack, so it doesn't scare the children. It also separates into a vest for front and back protection. 

@mrsvidal6 So this is the actual backpack in more detail. We had to do a lot of modifications because again this backpack is meant for larger people. Hopefully they can come out with a petite version so people don’t have to do all these modifications so it fits them. Bulletproofzone.com #teacher #school #teachersoftiktok #survivefirstgrade #teacherlife #teach #safety #schoolsafety #firstgrade #firstgradeteacher #teachers ♬ original sound - Kelsey Vidal
Vidal explains the modifications to her bulletproof backpack so that it fits her correctly.

We also bought the Barracuda door bar which is pratical because I can pick it up with one hand and install it in a few seconds. 

The school district provided us with the training and gave us an emergency backpack with bandages and first aid supplies.

@mrsvidal6 Barracuda door bar. This is used to stop an intruder from opening my classroom door. It’s super easy to use and they have a few different kinds on their website. There’s a floor bar, door handle bar or a door hinge lock. #teacher #school #teachersoftiktok #survivefirstgrade #teacherlife #teach #safety #schoolsafety #firstgrade #firstgradeteacher ♬ original sound - Kelsey Vidal
In this video, which has over 4 million views, Kelsey Vidal demonstrates how to use the "Barracuda" bar.

When I started teaching three years ago, I didn't think that I would need this gear in my classroom to feel safe. I knew that mass shootings had happened in the past in schools, but when I got my degree I was excited. I was mostly thinking about stickers, school supplies that I wanted to have. But because it's a reality, I had to do something. I couldn't wait for a change in the government. It's sad, because I wanted to be a teacher to work with students, not to be a police officer or a soldier. Of course, not everyone has to buy all this, but you need to have a plan: what would you use to lock the door, where would you run? 

@mrs.taylormora

Praying for Uvalde, teachers, students, parents and all that have been affected by this.

♬ original sound - Taylor Mora
In this video, which has more than 14 million views, another teacher describes the "reality of being a teacher" in the classroom: making sure the door can be quickly locked in case of a threat, pulling down window curtains so they can't be seen from the outside, having a hiding place accessible at all times...
@ericaappelo1 I forgot to add jumping every time the intercom comes on 😵‍💫 #teacher #teachersoftiktok #schoolsafety ♬ the joke is on you. icarly - Kate
Here, another teacher demonstrates techniques to protect herself in case of an attack: doors closed at all times, red tape to show children where to position themselves so as not to be seen, escape routes...

On June 12, a group of US senators announced that they had reached a bipartisan compromise on measures to strengthen gun control. The day prior, tens of thousands of Americans had taken to the streets to pressure Congress to toughen gun laws.

This bill is supported by several Republicans, meaning it has the support it needs to pass a vote in the Senate, although the proposal still falls short of the reforms called for by President Joe Biden.