Teachers Are Given 'Go Buckets' of Kitty Litter for Students To Use in Case of a Lockdown

Twenty20

Empty classroom full of desks
Twenty20

Now that going back to school is upon us, teachers everywhere are busily prepping their classrooms for the new school year. Usually, that means making sure they've got a hearty supply of paper and pencils on hand, and maybe even adding to their classroom library. But teachers in one Colorado school district were stunned when administrators gave them one more back-to-school item for their classrooms: buckets full of kitty litter -- so students have a place to go to the bathroom in the event of a lockdown. (Because yes, this is the world we live in now.)

  • Teachers in the Jefferson County Public School District were recently given the "go buckets" during back-to-school training, Time reports.

    The crude buckets -- which are meant for students to relieve themselves in if they're unable to leave their classroom because of an active shooter -- are made to be practical. And, of course, administrators hope that they'll never have to be used. But the fact that they even exist speaks volumes about the reality of sending children to school in America in 2019 -- where 22 shootings have taken place inside a school so far this year. 

    When you put it into that context, it suddenly doesn't seem like such an outlandish thought that these might come in handy. Especially when you consider that Jefferson is the same school district where the Columbine High School shooting happened in 1999, which left 12 students and one teacher dead.

    And just this past April, the entire district was yet again panicked when authorities said a woman obsessed with the 1999 shooting posed a "credible threat" to the area. The district was immediately closed, though it later reopened after news broke that the woman had committed suicide.

  • Advertisement
  • And yet, even so, many teachers who were handed a bucket were rattled, to say the least.

    Jefferson teacher Cassie Lopez even took to Twitter to share her concern over what the buckets signify.

    “This isn’t normal,” Lopez said in a video recording. “Unfortunately our society is at a place where it is and we need to do something about it.”

    In fact, that's the main message of her video -- we need to be doing more to solve the root cause of the issue. "Go buckets," just like bulletproof backpacks, are not going to stop more people from buying assault rifles, walking into schools, and killing dozens within mere seconds.

    “It feels like as a whole, America doesn’t care about our school children, which I don’t even have words for how awful that is,” Lopez said. “It feels like there’s this pressure for teachers to put your life on the line. That’s a lot to ask from teachers.”

  • It should be noted that the buckets are not actually a requirement, but are "strongly encouraged" by administrators in the district. 

    “We want to give our kids dignity in the middle of this type of crisis,” John McDonald, head of security for Jefferson County Public Schools, told Chalkbeat. “We really start with a belief that training creates a fundamental climate and culture of school safety, and you can be emergency prepared without being emergency scared.”

    McDonald said the idea for the buckets actually came about several years ago, after Alameda International Junior/Senior High School was locked down after a gun threat came in. As the minutes turned to hours, the fact of the matter was, students had to use the bathroom -- and had nowhere to go. Faced with few options, many took turns urinating in trash cans and closets, which is an indignity I think we can all agree no one should have to endure.

    McDonald added that the buckets aren't actually new -- teachers within the district have been given them before, and about half the schools in the district are stocked with the emergency item. 

    And, interestingly, they're not the only school shooting-related buckets that have been doled out in schools. Last year, a rural Pennsylvania school district made headlines after equipping classrooms with buckets full of rocks. They were meant to be used as a "last line of defense" in the event a shooter entered a classroom, but also left many people asking: Why are we brainstorming last-ditch efforts to stop deranged shooters, instead of stopping them where it matters -- getting the gun in the first place?