About half the classrooms in Jeffco Public Schools are now equipped with “go buckets” in preparation for when extended school safety lockdowns prevent students from using the bathrooms.
The idea for the 5-gallon buckets with kitty litter, toilet paper, hand sanitizer and other personal items spawned from a lockdown at Almeda High School a few years ago that lasted more than four hours, district safety supervisor John McDonald told KDVR, and parents in the district are now being asked to donate to the cause.
“It’s the world we’re living in,” McDonald told the news site. “It’s all about life safety.”
Students can now take a “bio-break” in the buckets during lockdowns, if need be, he said.
“I tell everybody we’re only limited by our imagination. We’re only limited by the box we’re thinking in,” he said. “So let’s start thinking outside the box.”
Michelle Gebers, a Jeffco parent, said the thinks “it’s a weird idea.
“But I guess if you’re in a lockdown situation, it’s not something every parent is thinking about,” she said.
“The world has certainly changed and we’ve adapted to it,” McDonald said.
Cassie Lopez, a seventh-grade teacher from Denver, made a spectacle of the go buckets in a social media video after an “upsetting” introduction to the concept during a recent staff meeting.
“We were in professional development in the library, and we were just wrapping it up, and our principal told us to get our buckets,” she said. “It was upsetting because it was just very symbolic of where our country is right now. The fact that there is a need to have a makeshift toilet in our classroom just says so much about where we’re at.”
Jeffco, where McDonald estimates half of classrooms stock the go buckets, is among numerous schools across Colorado and beyond encouraging teachers to prepare for the worst. The district is also home to the infamous Columbine High School shooting that left 15 dead in 1999. The buckets double as emergency first aid kits, with other items like a tourniquet, food and water rations, duct tape and other supplies, and are sold on survival sites like Sunset Survival and First Aid, where they go for $87 each.
They’re now standard in many classrooms across the country.
In Portage, Michigan, Portage Northern High School student Brennan Green collected items to fill 80 buckets for every classroom in his school and distributed them in July, inspired by an ALICE school safety training program, according to Mlive.
It was his Eagle Scout project.
“Each of the buckets put together by Green and his troop contain two alcohol swabs, a blanket or bed sheet, two bottles of water, a fire extinguisher, 10 glucose tablets, a glass breaker or steel rod, eight golf balls, 10 feet of rope, two towels, two tampons and one whistle,” according to the news site.
“All these tools can be used however you see fit,” Green said.
Green worked to get the go-ahead from school officials and create a list of items with the help of the school safety officer. He then solicited donations to fill the buckets from numerous local businesses and used volunteers to put it all together at no cost to taxpayers.