In Jefferson County, Colorado (home to the infamous Columbine High School) both parents and teachers were surprised and a little disconcerted to see that “buckets and kitty litter” had been added to their children’s "required back-to-school supply list" for 2019. And, not because the kiddos are learning to make sand castles or care for cats.

Those materials are for one very specific, very troubling purpose.

They’re being called “Emergency Go Buckets,” and they’re a solution to a problem that is every parent, teacher and student’s worst nightmare: an active school shooter. In the event of a prolonged lockdown, students, who will be locked down inside their classrooms, will use the buckets and kitty-litter as make-shift toilets.

This is not a symptom of a healthy society.

The idea that parents have to plan ahead and prepare their children for such a stupendously evil and violent event, when they should be getting excited to send their kids into a new school-year, is dark. The idea that teachers need to keep these Go Buckets in their class-closet next to the tissue boxes, just in case, is grim.

It isn’t a bad idea, don’t get me wrong. It’s a preparation borne from first-hand experience — several years ago Jefferson County’s Alameda International Jr./Sr. High School was locked down for almost five hours because of reports of a shooter inside the school. Kids were forced to use closets and trashcans as toilets… If they’d had some of these Emergency Go Buckets, that stinky situation could have been avoided.

We want to give our kids dignity in the middle of this type of crisis,” John McDonald, the executive director of the district’s department of school safety told Chalkbeat.

It’s bad enough when there’s a murderous lunatic on the loose in your school, without having to drop-trou and take a leak in front of your whole class.

Today, about half of Jefferson County’s 158 schools require these Emergency Go Buckets. It’s an adaptation to a very sick problem, which has become all-too-habitual in our society. And that makes many people uncomfortable.

We were doing [professional development], and it was like, ‘Oh, get your buckets, and this is what your buckets are for,’” Jeffco Public School Teacher Cassie Lopez describes. “It was shocking. I was pretty upset afterward.”

Not upset that her school district had added these kinds of emergency school supplies, nor even because the teachers were being given emergency medical response training for the same reason. She is upset that these senseless acts of violence have become so commonplace in this country that schools are now adapting to the problem, like it’s a leaky roof or some other every-day issue.

Since Columbine High School’s infamous 1999 massacre, there have been over 250 school shootings in the US. Adaptations, like the Emergency Go Bucket, are going to become more popular unless that evil pattern starts tapering off. Hell, only recently bullet proof backpacks have hit the marketplace and made a stir, and some classrooms (in Pennsylvania) are even going so far as to keep buckets of rocks in them, for classroom-protection.  

Yes, these are dark times ladies and gentlemen. The students of America should not have to live in fear, pissing in buckets and defending themselves with rocks, while armed madmen roam their hallways.

That sounds a freak dystopia — and like a terrifying way to get an education.