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Teachers ask in gun-soaked America: How many 6-year-olds can hide in a closet?

Families gather and hug outside the civic center in Uvalde, Texas, after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School May 24.
Families gather and hug outside the civic center in Uvalde, Texas, after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on Tuesday.
(Allison Dinner / AFP/Getty Images)
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To the editor: Each year I play a game with my 6-year-old students called, “Who can be the quietest in our closet?” Our class is lucky, because we have a closet attached to our room. (“National suicide plays out one murderous mass shooting at a time,” editorial, May 24)

Twenty-six little bodies sit quietly in the dark for about nine minutes after they’ve watched their first-grade teacher make barricades using classroom furniture. I have them watch me flip and move tables, push cubbies in front of the doors, tie straps to prevent doors from opening and do whatever else I can do to keep them protected.

I do this in hopes that if we ever had to do this for real, they would stay calm and not panic.

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When we are in the closet, we sit and I tell them we’re playing a version of hide-and-seek. When they ask why are we practicing this drill, I tell them it’s because we don’t want whatever bad is happening outside to get into our “safe” classroom. As we sit in the dark in silence, I am comforted that most are too young to understand the real reason for this drill, and I pray for their safety.

How many more children need to die at school before U.S. senators decide it’s time to finally do something? School is supposed to be a safe place for our innocent children.

Allison Rice, San Jose

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To the editor: I work in an elementary school as a speech therapist. On Tuesday, I went into my classroom and cleaned out cabinets. Why? Because I wanted to make sure that if there ever were a shooting on my campus, I would be able to fit students inside.

I thought about how I could take out the shelves and maximize the space to fit as many kids as possible, as quickly as possible. I thought about whether I would hide under my desk or try to take down the shooter. I thought about it in a very pragmatic way, nothing dramatic, just trying to figure out logistics.

That’s where we are. That’s where America is.

Personally, I don’t believe anyone should have access to guns. If there were no guns, then I wouldn’t have to do mental gymnastics trying to figure out how to hide 5-year-olds in cabinets to save them from being shot.

Kacky Brown, Santa Monica

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To the editor: Again, we mourn the killing of kids attending school. While studying anthropology years ago in college, I came to understand that one of the main functions of a civilized society was the protection of children. Therefore, I pose that the United States is not a civilized society.

As an educator, I am amazed that the fact that almost all perpetrators of mass shootings at school sites are students who are “loners” — ones who are outcasts or are bullied — is often minimized or ignored. Having been in education for nearly 55 years, I have dozens of anecdotes that relate to this.

One such story involved a 15-year-old student who was incessantly bullied during their junior year at a local high school in the gym shower room. This student finally decided to protect themselves by grinding an old screwdriver into a point and taking it to school. Due to a chance meeting with a physical education teacher, the weapon was confiscated and the administration moved the bully to another P.E. period.

All schools must have strong anti-bullying policies. Currently, I am a school board member who always fights for strong and strict anti-bullying regulations. More importantly, I was the above bullied student.

Bobbi Bruesch, Rosemead

The writer is a board member of the Garvey Unified School District and an inductee of the National Teachers Hall of Fame.

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