A number of Illinois schools have reportedly installed "active shooter alarms," which call for the police in the event of an attack.
The alarms are small switches similar to fire alarms, according to a report by the Chicago Tribune, though they are blue instead of red. They read "POLICE" in large white letters, and they contact local authorities through a centralized security system. The alarms have been added to more than 20 schools so far, and students have been instructed to pull them only if an armed intruder is spotted within the campus.
The alarms are reportedly spread across suburban schools outside of Chicago, and none have been added to public schools so far. The report focused on St. Benedict's Prepatory School as an example. The private elementary school is located on Chicago's North Side, with students as young as 5 years old now painfully aware of the possibility of attack.
"They really, sadly, are aware of this possibility," the school's head, Rachel Gemo, told reporters. "They are not immune to what they hear on TV."
The school reportedly spent $90,000 on the alarm system, and another $40,000 on new cameras. In total, there are now 30 boxes spread throughout the building, and faculty members carry individual fobs which can access the same system. A fifth grade student named Henry Klucznik told reporters that he is just "two to three seconds" away from the alarm during class time.
"I feel a lot safer than I used to," he remarked. His mother, Molly Klucznik, agreed with him, though she was saddened by the necessity.
"It's sad that we do have to think about this," she said. "When I was growing up we had tornado drills. With all these examples across the country, you hope and pray it doesn't happen to you and your school. I really hope we never have to use [the alarm system], but it's nice to be prepared."
The Tribune's report cites a non-profit organization called Everytown for Gun Safety, which counted nearly 6 incidents of gunfire on U.S. school grounds already this year. They note that even those that do not result in death or injury have a profound effect on children, and make it even harder for them to absorb their education.
"The effects of gun violence extend far beyond those struck by a bullet: gun violence shapes the lives of the millions of children who witness it, know someone who was shot, or live in fear of the next shooting," reads the organization's website.