As students in Sioux City get ready to head back to school on Thursday, teachers took time out of their classroom preparations on Wednesday to go through an active shooter scenario.
But, Sioux City Community School District Director of Communications Alison Benson said the day before the first day is typically a celebration for the 2,000 staff members in the district. "Normally, we do our celebration the day before school starts. We took a break away from that and decided to do this drill instead," Benson said.
And there's a reason for that. "Unfortunately, we've witnessed horrific tragedies across the nation with school districts going through tragedies, and we know that hope isn't a strategy for success," Benson said.
The one and a half hour table-top drill involved staff members responding to an active shooter scenario. They tackled many tough questions that sparked conversation among staff members.
Below lists some of the questions they grappled with. "How would you respond to a teacher trying to stop the shooter?" "How do you easily notify safety officials?" "How do you handle the parents?" "How would you talk to the media?" "Would you allow parents to pick up kids?" "How do you calm hysterical mothers?"
Special Education Teacher Miranda Galvin said two of the most important things she took away from the session was learning how to support the parents through this kind of situation and how to keep the kids safe. "I think it kind of takes off the edge. You're going to be panicked, you're going to be nervous, but you have knowledge in the back of your mind what to do," Galvin said.
Even though, the staff said the discussion was helpful, they're not all sure how they would respond if a shooter entered their building. Some of them said they don't feel completely prepared to handle anything that serious. "I believe that there is still a lot of things that we need to work on so that we're all on the same page about who's in charge, who has what job, that type of thing," Instructional Assistant Lisa Benson said. "You cannot have a manual checklist for something like this. You really have to think about it as it occurs," Alison Benson said.
Alison Benson said the schools hope to set up disaster drills once the students are back in class. She added that unfortunately, not every school can go through a disaster drill each year.
They had set up one last spring, but just as it began, authorities involved were called away to help look for Jamal Dean who had just shot Officer Kevin McCormick on Sioux City's West side.
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