Parents get lesson on schools' active shooter protocols

By LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

JASPER — Parents of students at the Greater Jasper Consolidated School Corporation got a chance Wednesday night to figure out what they would do if they were in a classroom when an active shooter event occurred.

The parents — all attendees at the corporation’s first parent school safety academy — worked through scenarios in groups as part of a training on the corporation’s active shooter protocols.

School Resource Officer Jason Knies and Assistant Superintendent of Support Services and Transportation Glenn Buechlein offered the training to teach parents about what measures the corporation takes to keep their children safe and to hear parent feedback. About 10 parents attended the academy that focused on the school’s active shooter and reunification protocols.

For active shooter incidents, Greater Jasper uses the ALICE Active Shooter Response Training — ALICE stands for alert, lock down, inform, counter and evacuate. During the training, parents learned different ways students and staff are taught to barricade doors and different means for countering should the perpetrator gain access to a classroom. Knies stressed that counter measures vary. For elementary students, countering could be throwing objects at the perpetrator and moving around the room to create a distraction and be a harder target to hit. With older students, counter could include tackling the shooter.

At any age, countering is based on personal choice and is age-appropriate.

Knies and Buechlein explained that during lockdown drills at the schools, they have students and staff practice all parts of the ALICE responses, including barricading doors and coming up with a plan to counter. Sometimes, Knies said, younger students get anxious.

“Then it’s a matter of making sure we sit down with those students and explain what we’re doing and why it’s important to practice,” Knies said.

Emily Klein has children at Holy Trinity Catholic School and at Ireland Elementary. She attended the parent academy to learn more about what her children are being taught to do. At the end of the evening, she said she got the information she was looking for.
“When [my children] say, ‘We had a bad-guy drill,’ I know what that means now,” she said.

For reunification after any emergency — lockdown, natural disaster or fire, to name a few — Greater Jasper uses the “I Love You Guys” family reunification plan, and Knies and Buechlein explained how that process works and what parents should expect should they ever need to be reunified. Buechlein explained that the reunification process will be long, and that parents will need to be patient. But, he said, if you’ve been told to go to a reunification site to pick up your child, your child is safe. Parents of injured children would have already been notified before reunification begins.

Andrea Hurm, who has children at Ireland Elementary, said she was thankful she attended the event.

“As a parent, you can never be informed enough,” she said.

Knies said he was happy with how the event went, and thought attendance was good for a first event, although he wished they could have shared more information in the two hours.

“We want to provide the information to parents,” Knies said.

Parents are encouraged to contact the schools with questions or concerns they have about student safety and the protocols the corporation follows. Buechlein and Knies are also considering hosting a second parent academy in the spring.




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