Last week, the California town of Santa Clarita was rocked by the news of a shooting at Saugus High School. Three students (including the alleged shooter) were killed in the attack. Those numbers may have been higher if the school’s new choir teacher Kaitlin Holt hadn’t kept a gunshot wound kit in her classroom.
Holt used the kit to help care for a wounded student who had been shot twice — once in the side and once in the shoulder. This bought time until first responders were able to get into the school and take the girl to the hospital where she underwent surgery for her injuries.
Teachers stocking gunshot wound kits or other improvisational safety devices, in their classrooms in the event there is an active shooter situation at their school isn’t a new thing. As a matter of fact, many schools are making both small and large changes with the goal of protecting students and schools from shooters.
Security Systems and Chair Legs
Pennsylvania teacher Julie R. explains her school’s many security features to Parentology, which includes a security system called Raptor.
“When parents, really anyone, enter the school they have their license scanned through this system when they check in at the office,” she says. “The system immediately reports back if they have a criminal record check.” If someone makes it through the security check, Julie says her plan is to stick a chair leg through her locked door handle so that even if a gunman “shoots out the lock” they’ll be unable to open the classroom door.
Taking Staff Suggestions
Rachel Angell, a writer and elementary school teacher in Huntersville, North Carolina, says that in her school district the security decisions are made by the Catholic Diocese, school administration, and local police. However, the staff has input as well when it comes to protecting schools from shooters.
“We, as school staff, have been to many meetings regarding security measures that are in place so we know and understand expectations and feel comfortable implementing them in and out of our classroom,” Angell explains. “Our school is always open to new ideas that have worked in other schools and listen to our local police when they come to us with suggestions as well. Student and staff safety is our administration’s first concern, so they do what is necessary to keep our school community a safe learning environment.”
One Professor Puts it in Writing
Dr. D. Gilson, a writer and university professor, has updated his syllabus to contain important safety information.
“Now my syllabus contains safety information we discuss as a class about what to do and where to go in case of an emergency, such as a shooting, fire, tornado, or other event,” he says.
Jon Purifoy, a principal at Farmington High School, tells Parentology that he bases his decisions on what changes to make within his school on what he is sure will work. Other times, he takes suggestions.
For example, a group of students once asked if they could add the classroom numbers to pieces of paper to hang on the outside facing windows of the school so first responders would easily find classrooms. Another idea was for curtains that could cover the windows of every classroom door.
“It’s not bulletproof, but in a panicked situation it can save time and help people respond faster,” he said of the new speed screens the school recently announced they were adding to every classroom. Purifoy says he also takes into consideration what the neighboring schools are doing. If they’ve found something that works for them they will share that information with the Farmington High School principal, and he says he does the same with them.
Go Ask A.L.I.C.E.
Dr. Sarena Shivers, the Superintendent of Redford Union School District located in Redford Township, Michigan, says that over the past five years the school district has created a task force that works to address what Shivers’ schools will do before, during and after a school shooting. Shivers says that in addition to the task force, they make sure that all school personnel is trained in the Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate (A.L.I.C.E.) procedure. Likewise, every two years, each grade is given an age-appropriate lesson in A.L.I.C.E. curriculum in conjunction with other on-campus provisions. This has all been instituted as part of a collaboration between the school district and the Redford Township Police Department.
Protecting Schools from Shooters — Sources
Julie R, a Pennsylvania teacher
Rachel Angell, writer and elementary school teacher
Dr. D. Gilson, writer and university professor
Jon Purifoy, principal at Farmington High School
Dr. Sarena Shivers, Superintendent for Redford Union School District