COLORADO SPRINGS – In light of the tragic events at STEM School Highlands Ranch, we’re taking a closer look at what school districts are doing to prepare students, staff and law enforcement for the rare threat of an active shooter situation.
As of 2009, Colorado law requires all districts to have plans in place, including “all-hazard drills”, to test communications and emergency procedures.
News5 spoke with Colorado Springs District 11’s Devra Ashby, who explains, “[Children have] had to grow up in an age where this is the reality.” Campuses across the district regularly take place in lockdown and lockout drills in order to know what actions to take in order to stay safe and remain less visible in case of an active threat.
Active shooter drills are a more intensive form of practice reserved for staff and law enforcement only. In those events, officers and actors use simulated gunfire, smoke and other elements to offer a realistic approach to safety and security planning. (See below for an example of this training in Pueblo.)
“They will use our school building, they’ll work with our security staff, some of our other staff throughout the district to practice those active shooter drills when students aren’t in the school,” Ashby explained.
The drills usually take place on the weekend – allowing districts to devote the day to training without interrupting classes, and without adding any stress to students with emotional triggers.
But to make the situation better, the district says parents can prepare their children by having an open conversation about what to do in case of an emergency.
“I would encourage parents and guardians to talk with their students about this type of thing. make a plan with your student,” Ashby emphasized.
News5 reached out to Harrison District 2 and Academy District 20 for comment on specific policies and procedures. Spokespersons for those districts were not available at the time. We’ll update this article when we learn more. Check the bottom of this article for links to district security and emergency information pages.
By comparison, the Pueblo Police Department partnered with District 60 earlier this year to conduct a large scale active shooter drill with student volunteers, several law enforcement agencies and a lot of noise.
“That way we can work as one team, because in the event that this really occurred, every agency is going to be there and we’re all going to have our own parts,” Sgt. Antoinette Ramos with Pueblo Police Department.
Below is News5 Bill Folsom’s report from January 9, 2019.
Here’s a look at the K-12 Standard Response Protocol used by districts across Colorado, the United States and Canada.
Lockdown: Locks, Lights, Out of Sight
Students are to move away from sight, maintain silence, and do not open the door.
Teachers are to lock interior doors, turn out the lights, move away from sight, do not open the door, maintain silence, and take attendance.
Lockout: Secure the perimeter
Students are to return inside, conduct business as usual.
Teachers are to bring everyone indoors, lock perimeter doors, increase situational awareness, conduct business as usual, and take attendance.
Evacuate to an announced location
Students are to bring their phones, leave everything else behind, and follow staff and law enforcement instructions.
Teachers are to lead the evacuation to the announced location, take attendance, and notify of any missing, extra or injured students.
In the event of a natural disaster:
- Tornado: Students will evacuate to a shelter area
- Hazmat: Students will help seal the room
- Eathquake: Students are to fdrop, cover and hold
- Tsunami: Students are to get to high ground
In all of the above situations, teachers will lead the safety strategy and take attendance.