Threats from North Korea spark safety concerns, return of civil defense

Braden Ward, Staff Writer

Threats of nuclear war are nothing new; the United States has dealt with threats ever since Russia successfully tested an atomic bomb in 1949; however, “duck and cover” drills have disappeared from American Schools and been replaced with various lock down drills.   

Duck and cover drills took place as frequently as lockdown drills do today. These drills could possibly make a comeback in the near future.

According to Virginia Beach Safe Schools coordinators, in case of a nuclear event, the schools “will initiate our shelter-in-place drill. The shelter-in-place drill is the same as our all-school assembly in the gym. Students will be escorted to the gymnasium, the doors will be closed, the HVAC system will be shut down, and our medical staff will evaluate any injuries.”

Safe school coordinators also said that the Crisis Response team, comprised of school officials and city emergency management personnel, will advise school personnel of its next steps in the case of a nuclear threat.

Students prefer a plan of action to secure schools in case of a nuclear threat, and many students mentioned this concern for safe schools during their advisory block survey.

“I think schools need to prepare with anything possibly needed in that situation, like things for protection from radiation or being prepared to evacuate at any time,” said sophomore Jacob Ward.

Recent tension with North Korea and Russia have led to a comeback in Cold War era civil defense tests. Hawaii, the closest target to North Korea, tests air raid sirens monthly.

These monthly tests led to an accidental release of ballistic missile alert over the Hawaii Emergency Alert System on Jan. 13.  The level of threat, however, has decreased since then.

“During the Cold War, I think we knew the danger of Russia. North Korea is so secretive, it’s like we don’t really know what they’re capable of,” said library media specialist Francis Whitmore.  

Just as Russia threatened European allies during the Cold War, North Korea threatens current allies of Japan and South Korea. The type of threat remains consistent, but the level of preparation for the situation has lowered.

“I’d say it’s a pretty big threat; tensions between the U.S. and North Korea are kind of big,” said sophomore Andrei Sandra.