Student and staff safety is the number one priority in schools across the country.
That’s why local school districts are making strides to make sure the best practices are put in place, including Minot Public Schools, which will be conducting safety drills over the next three days.
Two years ago, the district began revising school safety plans to see what can be done better.
It led to a hand-in-hand partnership with the Minot Police Department, which led to what’s happening these next few days – active threat drills for all Minot Public Schools.
Very soon, nearly 7,700 kids will be in the hands of the Minot Public School district.
“Parents entrust us with students when they drop them off in the morning,” principal at Hoeven Elementary, Joy Walker, said.
The safety of everyone within the walls of 19 school buildings is a huge responsibility, which is why Minot Public Schools and the Minot Police Department are taking the steps to be able to provide a safe, secure space.
“I think the goal from the onset is just being able to talk comfortably about a very uncomfortable topic,” added Capt. Justin Sundheim.
Administration and police have put in a lot of time and effort to be able to beef up security protocols.
It started with the 2014 bond issue that allowed each building to be secured with buzz-in systems.
Next, was an extensive planning process to establish how staff would respond to active threats of all kinds.
“You know, you can have plans on paper, but until you practice them, they mean so much more when you’ve actually put them into place and you’ve had hands-on,” said Walker.
Staff will be faced with a specific scenario to respond to. Response plans are specific to each individual school, because of different factors like student age or the layout of the building.
“After they respond to their scenario, we’ll be able to come back together and debrief, coach, train, evaluate where we can all get better in regards to that response plan for those individual schools,” Sundheim explained.
Is this a sign of the times? Yes, an active shooter is amain concern, but there are other possibilities that can’t go by the wayside.
“Way back when,” Sundheim said, “you used to do drills of getting under the desk and have bomb shelters in our schools because we thought of that worst-case scenario back then to the fire drills being standardized to where we are now. I think that threat is always going to be evolving to where in 30 or 40 years, I would venture to say that there’s a different kind of threat that we will have to adjust to.”
The ultimate goal is to have the confidence to keep oneself – and every kid – safe.
The first will be at 10:30 Monday morning at Ramstad Middle Schools and at Bel Air Elementary, along with two other schools in the afternoon
Do not panic if you notice out of the ordinary activity.