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Welches Schools run drills to prepare for possible intruder posted on 11/01/2017

For Welches Schools Principal Kendra Payne and her staff, the security improvements on the school’s campus, including a single point of entry, camera system, key swipe access and locked vestibule, makes a difference every single day when it comes to feeling safe. The features, added thanks to the bond that built the new high school, allow the staff to grant access in and out of the building and be able to monitor who is coming in.

Even with the strong security, the school and the Oregon Trail School District are not taking safety lightly, highlighted by the annual “Run, Hide, Fight” training held last month, instructing students on how to react to an event that threatens their safety at the school.

Payne noted that the training has been in response to the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012.

“That really caused a lot of districts all over the county to rethink their approach to school safety,” Payne said.

In the years before Sandy Hook, Payne noted, the traditional school lockdown would call for teachers to lock doors and close the blinds, with everyone in the classroom hiding in a corner.

“It was very much hide until you’re either safe or until you’re told to come out,” she said. “There was a lack of empowerment that comes with that message.”

Payne, staff members and district administrators have worked together on the new philosophy, which includes a partnership with the Sandy Police Department, and includes elements from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The philosophy’s message is: run when it is safe to run; hide where it is safe to hide and fight if you have no other options.

All teachers at the school have participated in training, including figuring out how things would work in their classroom, such as positioning furniture to block pathways and how fighting might look at different grade levels.

Payne noted that previously, the school and Sandy PD staged a drill including an officer playing the role of an intruder in order to work on techniques for safely taking a person down.

But the primary goal is to keep students safe, prioritizing their reactions in order, as long as it is safe: run, hide and fight.

Payne added that a lot of the training is discussion based, with keeping things appropriate for the age and grade of the student, ranging from something that is not overwhelming or scary for those in kindergarten to a more nuanced and deeper discussion with eighth graders.

Last month’s drill included a simulation of a lockdown, including an alert message, and informing parents of the drill to share training videos and share ways to talk with children about school safety and security.

For more information, visit http://oregontrailschools.com/parents/student-safety/

By Garth Guibord/MT




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