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Local Superintendent Offers Lessons Learned from School Safety Training

District has partnered with Strategos International to create simulations
Buffalo High School
Preparations are helping keep students and teachers safe in Dallas County/credit: Dallas County School District

In light of the tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut Friday morning, many parents are left wondering what sort of measures their child’s school districts are taking to prevent or prepare for such an event. KSMU’s Samuel Crowe spoke with a local administrator, and has this report.

Jon Turner is the assistant superintendent of the Dallas County School District in Buffalo, Missouri. He says while it’s impossible to keep a school district 100 percent safe, his district has taken some specialized precautions, such as locking doors inside schools that were previously kept unlocked.

“Sometimes people have to take a few extra steps to get into a school building because a door is now locked that has always been opened. We’ve really taken a serious consideration of what doors have to be open, so that we’re open to the community, but also what doors have to be locked so we can prevent some tragedies from happening. So we now try to make sure that all doors that need to be opened in our school district are ones that can be easily monitored by staff all the times that the students are in classrooms,” Turner said.

As recently as March 9, the school district completed a training course through Strategos International. The course focused on intruder response, and was divided into two parts: the first discussed warning signs and proper responses to intruders and “lockdown” situations, and the second was a real-life simulation in every school building. The trainers were brought in to see how school faculty and staff would react if an intruder was to enter the school. Keep in mind that students were not around during the simulations.

“We actually had simulators come in and they actually were intruders that were dressed like intruders, they were carrying simulated firearms, and they actually went through our school buildings and showed our teaching staff what they should do in case some kind of emergency like this would come up,” Turner said.

Turner said the simulation was so startling for some teachers, they were crying.

“Even though it’s a simulation, it’s something that brings tears to your eyes. It was traumatic to go through that. Those are trainings that you don’t want to go through, but after you go through them you say, ‘We had to do that, because it makes us think about weaknesses that we have in our plan. It makes us act more responsibly if a tragedy like that were to happen,’” Turner said.

Turner said Strategos International held training sessions in both the Ava and Lebanon, Missouri school districts as well. You can visit our website, ksmu.org, for more information.

For KSMU News, I’m Samuel Crowe.