A Parents’ Plan for Just in Case: What to do if a threat happens at school

Reflecting on current events it strikes me:
The teachers, staff, students, police, firefighters, paramedics all train for all sorts of situations- from fires to tornadoes to threats in the form of people. They are prepared. They have plans. We as parents should be prepared too. We need to have plans too.

In our school district, and I’m sure countless others around the country there have been threats made, some are not creditable, some are.Almost every time someone posts that something is going on to trigger the safety procedures in our district, it alarms other parents, so many want to rush to the school and pull their kids out. I get it. I do. Because IF an active shooter were to be reported, it would take the strength of 10 elephants to keep me from rushing to the school. I have 5 kids: 2 in grade school, 1 in preschool that will start K next yr, and 2 toddlers. They are my life. Any horrific event happening is scary, and even more so when it involves schools. I worry about my kids all the time. My mom is a high school teacher, and I have loads of family and friends that are teachers, from K-12. I worry about them all too. I know they and all teachers worry about their kids- our kids. I totally understand wanting your loved ones next to you, knowing they are safe.

BUT I know that rushing to the school wouldn’t be the safest thing to do.

The safest thing is to TRY TO REMAIN CALM, STAY IN PLACE, and WAIT until you’re told where and when to pick up your student. I know it’s hard. I know it’s scary when things are reported on here and we have no clue what’s going on in the school buildings. I know rumors fly and fear spreads like wildfire. But not being calm, rushing to grab your kid, not being level headed does nothing but put yourself, your kids, my kids, the teachers and staff, and the police in more danger. You can cause even more confusion and disorder to what might already be a chaotic event. And as we’ve seen in previous situations that have happened in our district, the schools and police and fire departments do an amazing job taking care of our kids, even if we don’t get told all the information right way. I trust that they have my kids’, your kids’, all kids’ safety first.

If we all agree to do the following, the schools and first responders can do their jobs. Our students, yours and mine, the teachers and staff, the first responders, and we, ourselves, you and me, will be safer in the event of any given situation.

 

1) TRY TO REMAIN CALM, STAY IN PLACE, and WAIT until you’re told where and when to pick up your student. (Remaining calm is hard, but it’s what we’re told and taught to do in any situation- from a fire to a car accident.) We lead by example. Our kids model our behavior. If you’re calm, they’ll feel safer.

2) If your student has a cell phone and they alert you that they are in a lockout before the district announces it, reassure your kid, don’t spread rumors, don’t be the source of more fear. Again, we lead by example. Make sure they listen to their teacher- they know better than you to do to what they need to do in a given situation. Don’t post it on here causing more panic and confusion. There will be time to post about it later.

3) If you are allowed to pick up your kid for something like (C) below: be calm, be prepared to have your ID, be prepared to listen to directions.

4) If, God forbid, a more serious event is occurring, again, try to be as calm as possible. Be prepared to go to where you need to to pick up your kids. Be prepared to show your ID. Be prepared to listen to instructions from school officials and the police or other first responders. Remain orderly; don’t push and shove other parents. They are just as scared as you are and want to have their kids with them just as much as you do.

5) Don’t call the school tying up the phone lines. If you want to complain about how they are doing their jobs, wait until after the event is over.

Before anything else happens: Talk to your kids about what they are supposed to do when the safety protocols are issued and put into action. If you don’t think they know, bring it to the teacher’s attention. Talk to their teachers. They are our partners and we theirs. Let’s work together. If your schools don’t have a safety plan in place (which is pretty unlikely), push for one. A plan that is clear and easy for kids to understand like ours which comes from the i love u guys Foundation.

These are a few reasons why you SHOULDN’T rush to the school. (These key phrases are what our district uses. Check with your schools to see if yours are different.)

 

A) IF a dangerous person is immediately outside a school and you rush to pick up your student during a LOCKOUT, you put yourself, your student, my kids, the rest of the student body and staff at risk by going in to pick up your student. By demanding the door be opened to get your kid, you risk the chance that you are opening the door for the outside threat to go inside. You take the staff’s focus from keeping all students safe to just one kid. You divert the police from searching for and protecting the school.

B) IF it is a LOCKDOWN and you rush to the school, you force the police to take their focus off apprehending the suspect if that is the situation. You won’t be allowed in the school. That building is going to be locked down, only opening to first responders. You put yourself in possible harm’s way. Again, you distract the first responders from their jobs.

C) Yes, some safety protocol events are different from others and done as a precaution. One possible situation that comes to mind is when the Honeybee Killer was at large. The kids are safe inside. There is no direct threat to the school. If you have a scheduled appointment, like a meeting with a teacher or for a doctor’s appointment, call or email to see if you’re able to keep it. This will work best if everyone isn’t calling to pick up their kids out of fear.

No one wants to think about having to have plans like this in place. No one wants to need to have plans like this in place. But sadly, we do.

I’d love to be able to take this to the school board and say, “Look. We as parents know you are doing your best. We want to help out so we’ve developed a plan for parents.” I’d love for you to be able to do that too in your district.

I’m not trying to minimize anyone’s feelings or emotions, because they are real & valid.
But just as we have plans in place in case of a fire at home to make sure everyone is safe, we should have a plan for this too.
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