USD No. 113 improves crisis plan, training
Training. New Handbook. Drills. Going into the 2018-19 school year, the Prairie Hills USD No. 113 school district has taken numerous steps to increase its crisis preparedness.
At the end of the 2017-18 school year, while Superintendent Todd Evans said safety was a priority in the district he also said the district was in need of additional training and an updated plan. This came at a time when tragedies were happening around the country, and locally Axtell, Marysville and Nemaha Central schools all experienced crisis situations after threatening messages were found in bathrooms.
The district started the process to rectify this in April, when certified staff attended an inservice focused on crisis training. A second crisis training was held in August, this time for classified staff. Both inservices were led by John Calvert, school resource office at Royal Valley High School. Calvert encourages the use of S.P.A.R. Protocol — short for Sprint, Prepare, Attack, Reunify — which the district has now incorporated into its newly updated Staff Crisis Intervention Handbook.
At the Aug. 13 Board of Education meeting, the board approved the newest updates to the Handbook — which included compliance with the State Fire Marshall’s new requirements for drills, as well as language for identifying certain types of crises as specified by the district’s Crisis Team.
A big change that will be implemented is a new set of drills, as required by the State Fire Marshall. Drills required will be as follows: fire drills, quarterly; tornado or severe weather shelter drills, three times annually; school bus evacuation drills, once per semester; and crisis drills, nine times per year.
Crisis drills will include crisis situations of “Lock Out,” “Lock In” and “Intruder Lockdown.”
Per the district’s Crisis Team, a “Lock Out” refers to situation in which students and staff inside the school will be isolated from potential dangers outside the school. A “Lock In” is used when there is a need to clear the hallways and confine students and staff to their rooms. An “Intruder Lockdown” refers to a situation in which there is a threat of violence inside the school building, or a serious incident that could jeopardize the safety of students and/or staff that would warrant an evacuation.
Superintendent Evans told board members that, per state law, the district cannot give much prior notice that a crisis drill will be taking place.
Shaughnessy asked what would happen when students start texting their parents saying they are “in a lockdown.”
Evans said that an announcement will be made just prior to the drill, so that students are aware it is just a drill.
“The idea is that we cannot give two days notice to the parents, because we do not want anyone having prior notice to the drill,” Evans said. “However, we also do not want students or staff to panic in a crisis drill situation, so we will be able to let them know just before the drill occurs.”
In addition to the trainings and updated handbook, the district has been taking steps to improve building security throughout the district. Capital outlay projects that focused on building security were given top priority and completed over the summer.
The board is considering an extensive project at Axtell to improve security. To read more about this project, see minutes from the school board meeting on Page 11A of this week’s Herald.