Puma Press

Recent school shootings raise safety concerns

Students are let out from PVUSD North Canyon High School on Nov. 12, 2015.

Students are let out from PVUSD North Canyon High School on Nov. 12, 2015.

Photo by Keyra Ramos

Photo by Keyra Ramos

Students are let out from PVUSD North Canyon High School on Nov. 12, 2015.

Keyra Ramos, Reporter, Puma Press

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With the recent rise in media attention to school shootings, such as the one at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, the worries of schools about safety have also risen. As a result, the Paradise Valley Unified School District has begun to take the necessary precautions to keep its staff and students safe.

PVUSD communications specialist, Becky Kelbaugh, said that the district has sent an email to parents regarding emergency preparedness and site security measures. PVUSD staff have also begun practicing emergency drills.

Director of Student Services, Dr. Drew Davis, who oversees the emergency response planning for PVUSD, says, “We look at and focus on four different areas. We spend a lot of time analyzing our risks and our threats and then creating plans to address those risks. Often times, that comes to look like building improvements … The last big component is the training piece.”

This year, PVUSD has made an Active Shooter Action Plan with Coyote Collaborative. According to their website, this organization, sponsored by the Arizona Department of Health Services’ Bureau of Public Health Emergency Preparedness, works to “provide tools, experience, education and information to facilitate continuous improvement for community disaster preparedness and response.”

PVUSD has joined with a group of security experts — university security, FBI, law enforcement and more — to recognize that one of the things that schools need is “more direct training on active shooter situations.” This is where a training video comes in. This video is put in the K-12 setting to train staff what to do during a situation such as having an active shooter on campus.

“What we’ve done this years is have our principal and our law enforcement officer present some background information on prevention and security and then share this video and then have a discussion afterwards with the staff about what is their takeaway of the video, making it entirely more real for the school and the teachers in that school,” Davis said about the training video.

One of the most important pieces of the training is the active thinking. An example given by Drew shows students outside or “in physical education class out on the field” during an emergency lockdown, and the teacher’s duty must be to think wisely. Drew elaborates, “Does it make sense for us to return to the building, or should we be evacuating the site?” There is an obvious reaction that if gunshots are heard from the building, the safest thing would be not to return. Therefore, “thinking on your feet,” as Davis puts it, is critical when training for an active shooter situation.
According to Davis, PVUSD is currently carrying out normal practice drills with students — lockdown drills and fire drills. Staff, parents and law enforcement are talking about getting students involved in becoming aware and safe. PVUSD is currently planning on expanding active shooter training to students, especially in high school.

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Recent school shootings raise safety concerns