At their workshop this afternoon (10/17/2018), members of the Lake County School Board reviewed training materials that will be used to help students prepare for new active shooter safety drills, which are now required by law.
The materials include a PowerPoint presentation, a video and, for the youngest students, the book I’m Not Scared, I’m Prepared by Julia Cook, which is already in use at Treadway Elementary School.
All three tools emphasize options to help avoid an assailant on a school campus. Students, under the guidance of their teacher, can be instructed to run away from the building to a safe location. If they cannot safely get away, they may be instructed to barricade the doors and hide. Finally, if an assailant enters a classroom and approaches students directly, they would be instructed to employ the “stranger danger” techniques many parents teach at home – do whatever you can to safely get away, including screaming or throwing things to create a distraction.
The district-created PowerPoint presentation and videos – a version for kindergarten through 5th grade and a different one for middle and high school students – heavily stress the importance of listening to the teacher and following his or her directions. Similarly, Cook’s book, which is colorfully illustrated to appeal to younger students, uses the image of a wolf to represent “a dangerous person” while the teacher is portrayed as a shepherd and the students as the sheep who follow the shepherd’s lead.
Teachers will choose the most appropriate tools to use with their students depending on factors such as age and student temperament. “We have to trust teachers to adjust instruction to meet the needs of their kids,” Superintendent Diane Kornegay said.
Once the concepts have been introduced, the safety drills will follow. During the drills, an announcement will be made on an intercom and teachers will lead their students in the appropriate response. As with other drills, the dates will not be announced in advance. However, principals have been asked to send home a letter after a drill has taken place so parents can continue the safety discussion at home.
The board discussed the importance of properly preparing students without frightening them.
“What’s really important is building safety and providing these tools as a part of our school culture,’’ said Cindy Christidis, principal at Treadway Elementary School. “I hate that we even have to have this discussion, but we have to keep our kids safe. It’s our responsibility, and this is a great opportunity for us to do that.”
Board member Marc Dodd agreed. “I’m the parent of two elementary school kids, and I want them to have a fighting chance,” he said. “We are going to walk kids through some uncomfortable situations. They are going to encounter them, if not at school then maybe at home, in the neighborhood, in the store. We’re preparing these kids. Just as we prepare them to do math and be able to read books, we’re preparing them to survive stuff like this.”