By Liz Shepherd
and Shelby Harrell
WARSAW — In light of the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, officials at Warsaw and Wawasee school districts offered their thoughts on security issues.
The Texas shooting left 21 dead May 24 after an 18-year-old went on a rampage inside the school. The massacre has again raised concerns about keeping schools safe.
Wawasee Community School Corporation officials declared their intentions to bring a renewed focus to the safety protocols for each school building.
At Wawasee Community School Corporation, recent shootings have not led to any changes in policy, said Superintendent Stephen Troyer.
“This is something we do on an annual basis as part of our effort to keep our staff up to date with their safety training.”
As part of their training process, faculty are required to undergo a refresher course at the beginning of each academic year.
Regarding the corporation’s current safety protocol, Troyer stressed the importance of diligence in dealing with emergency situations of this type. “When people come into our buildings to attend school and work each day, we’re doing everything we can to keep our people and our students safe,” Troyer said. “We have to be diligent and we have to be aware and we have to make this a priority.”
According to reports from various publications, the Texas shooter was able to obtain access to the school’s interior through an unlocked auxiliary point of entry. “All exterior doors will remain locked right now,” Troyer asserted. “However, we do have secured access around the building for anybody who needs access to it.”
Throughout their debriefing of the event, discussions were had regarding the enhancement of training opportunities for staff members. “Part of our annual training process is a refresher course that we go through, typically at the beginning of each year,” said Troyer. In addition, almost all the corporation’s administrators attend annual training through the Indiana Department of Education to earn and maintain certification as a School Safety Specialist.
The corporation will conduct its annual review of current policies and procedures in mid-June. “We get together every year to make tweaks and adjustments,” Troyer said. “We feel like our plan is in a good spot.”
School Resource Officer Joe Leach made several remarks attesting to the administration’s efforts to continue to ensure the safety of all students and staff members. “Unfortunately, it could happen anywhere,” Leach lamented. “We’re always making sure we have what we think is the best plan in place to keep our people safe.”
In Warsaw, Dr. David Robertson, assistant superintendent of elementary education for Warsaw Community Schools, emphasized the importance of the district’s partnerships with both Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office and Warsaw Police Department.
“This partnership includes our school resource officers and also many on and off-duty officers rooting throughout our schools,” said Robertson. “We are all devastated by the recent, tragic events in Texas.”
Robertson also said all WCS principals are school-safety certified.
“This is unusual for a school system, but we value this essential education and annual certification,” said Robertson. “On a regular basis and again after any event of this magnate, our school safety plans are reviewed and evaluated with local authorities.”
To conclude, Robertson said notifying schools or local authorities about any potential threats is important.
“As a community, the largest deterrent is notification to the schools or local authorities if unsettling warning signs are heard or seen. A safety tip line with WCS has been established. Details can be found on the WCS technology page.”
“Each school-issued iPad has the TIPLINE app on the home screen. The school also promotes the TIPLINE toll-free number at 1 (833) 300-STOP.”
Ready.gov, a national public service campaign created to promote emergency management, education and preparedness among U.S. citizens, has published the following safety tips and survival guidelines in the event of an active shooter attack.
- Stay alert. Always be aware of your environment and any possible dangers.
- If you see something, say something to local authorities. That includes suspicious packages, people behaving strangely or someone using strange communications.
- Observe warning signs. Signs might include unusual or violent communications, substance abuse, expressed anger or intent to cause harm. These warning signs may increase over time.
- Have an exit plan. Identify exits and areas to hide wherever you go, including work, school and special events.
- Learn lifesaving skills. Take basic first aid training to assist the wounded before help arrives.
Survive during the incident (run, hide, fight):
Run to safety
- Seek safety. Getting away from the attacker is the top priority.
- Leave your belongings behind and get away.
- Call 9-1-1 when you are safe and describe the attacker, location and weapons.
Cover and Hide
- Cover and hide if you can’t evacuate. Find a place to hide out of view of the attacker and put a solid barrier between yourself and the threat if possible.
- Lock and block doors, close blinds and turn off lights.
- Keep silent.
- Fight only as a last resort. When you can’t run or cover, attempt to disrupt the attack or disable the attacker. Be aggressive and commit to your actions.
For more information, visit ready.gov/public-spaces.