School Safety Addressed at National School Conference

During the fourth annual National School Response Conference, which took place January 16–18 in Las Vegas, Nevada, school teachers, administrators, counselors and psychologists took a crash course on how to deal with a gunman on campus, according to a recent article published by The conference’s main message to attendees: Rethink how they handle school security, including lockdowns and evacuations.

The conference, which started after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, also educates school officials on how to deal with natural disasters, bullying, and disease epidemics. This year’s conference, however, focused on school shootings in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shootings, educating attendees on how to react to a gunman on campus.

“This is a difficult topic that people don’t always want to talk about,” said Amy Klinger of the campus security consulting nonprofit The Educator's School Safety Network, as quoted by the Las Vegas Sun. “But it has to happen. It’s critical.”

A message Klinger emphasized about the recent Newtown shooting disaster also applies to businesses: “The lesson learned from Newtown is just putting in a security system isn’t enough,” she said in the Sun report. “If someone is determined enough to get into a school, they will get in.”

During the conference, Klinger advised that schools break from the traditional “lock down” scenario of locking classroom doors, dimming the lights, and moving students to a corner to remain quiet until help arrives. Why? Because she says this coping strategy leaves students and staff vulnerable. Instead, Klinger suggests schools take a more proactive approach to keeping those on campus safe: Run, hide, and fight, recommendations also endorsed by the Department of Homeland Security.

Basically, the idea is that instead of staying inside a locked-down campus with a gunman, students and teachers are advised to run away if possible and later meet at a predetermined common area away from the school. And if running away isn’t possible, teachers and students would revert to the traditional model of barricading themselves inside a classroom. And as a last resort, Klinger advises students and staff to fight back with improvised weapons.

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