Recent violence on school and university campuses has gripped the headlines, given reason for pause and reflection and, unfortunately, forced school administrators across the state to prepare for our worst nightmare, a tragedy on our school grounds as a result of a school shooting. Before going further, I must freely admit, if an individual is determined to cause harm to students on our campus or in one of our buildings, no amount of preparation can eliminate those intentions. Even the best experts in the field admit, active shooter incidents occur without warning and are impossible to predict. However, prudent planning obligates school administrators to prepare and instruct our colleagues as well as our students on how to respond when a tragic event such as this takes place.
For some time, school districts across the state have been required to submit school crisis plans to the state for review and compliance mandates. Districts have been conducting drills, planning, working with law enforcement officials, and developing procedures in an effort to minimize injury or loss of life. Admittedly, over time those plans have changed as law enforcement officials have reviewed and examined intelligence and data from crime scenes, conducted interviews, and generally analyzed past incidents. Unfortunately, law enforcement has had too many opportunities to review these scenarios that have become all too familiar. Recently, it was reported there have been over 140 shootings on school and college campuses since 2012 and over 45 just in the year 2015 alone. With each passing event, it eliminates the ability for one to say, “That would/could never happen here.” In the past, many school districts utilized the traditional lock-down approach whereby students stayed in classrooms, away from windows/doors and waited for law enforcement to arrive and address the situation. Over time, this approach has been found effective in some types of disturbances, but not others.
Prior to the start of this school year, The STEM Academy @ Bartlett administrators, along with local law enforcement officials, participated in Active Shooter training. This is training to better prepare for and survive a traumatic event such as that of a violent intruder. Once again, no system is guaranteed or perfect, however, we do believe this training was beneficial to all those in attendance. That training has since been passed along to all staff members.
On the morning of December 1, 2016, The STEM Academy @ Bartlett will be conducting a mandated/required active shooter drill. During the course of this event, students will review and “practice” emergency techniques and evacuation, become educated on the topic of active shooter protocol, and participate in discussions with faculty and staff on the importance of this issue, as well as what steps to take should an intruder enter their classroom with dangerous intentions. We have taken great steps to determine what this drill should “look like” for our campus. We have worked with law enforcement officials and researched various options.
On the morning of December 1, 2016, at approximately 9:00 AM, our drill will begin. Campus Police Officials will be on campus. Staff will be making decisions to utilize run/hide/fight techniques.
Those students and staff able to evacuate will begin returning to campus by 9:45AM.
9:55 Make announcement for All Clear and begin “De-briefing session/final discussion.” Get feedback from students: What did you think? How did you feel? Make sure students understand the importance of letting faculty/staff know if someone is planning something like this—so this drill never need be a reality!
Again, we wish to be both prudent and cognizant of our students’ needs; thus, any emergency drill is of the utmost importance to us as school faculty. Should you have any questions about this drill or district efforts regarding student safety, feel free to contact me.
Peter L. Ulrich
The STEM Academy @ Bartlett