Return to School and Safety
The focus of school administrators and parents for the 2021/2022 school year is developing the safest way to transition students back to the classrooms. Social distancing, masks, and enhanced cleaning procedures will be top of mind for the first day of school.1
In the past 18 months, children have seen how a pandemic can have devastating impacts on lives,
economies, and schools. As a result of Covid-19, schools closed, academic terms were truncated, routines were broken and anxiety permeated students’ homes and social lives.
Schools have weighed physical health and safety measures as part of the Covid-19 reentry plan but should not discount the student’s state of mind. The 2019 report on Targeted School Violence that was released by the United States Secret Service states that a large percentage of school violence occurs post-break. Simply stated, the return from a summer vacation or holiday break is a key time when school shootings have occurred. Now take into consideration that many students have been out of the classroom since March 2020. The separation from friends, removal of social activities such as sports and after-school programs, a nonexistent routine, and a massive increase in domestic problems will contribute to a higher number of at-risk students.
School leadership along with law enforcement and security professionals will need to play a pivotal role in getting at-risk students the help they need prior to an incident occurring. Much like ourselves, children have never been more emotionally or mentally vulnerable as they are today at this moment. In addition, any previous emotional or mental strain was most certainly exasperated during Covid-19 restrictions. over the past 18 months.
What Can Districts do Immediately for a Safer Return?
Districts should set aside 45-minutes with staff at the beginning of the year to review the warning signs that could prevent a violent event from occurring in the schools. Here are ten of the basic warning signs to look out for:
- Threats to a target or others, and/or an intent to attack.
- Intense or escalating anger.
- Interest in weapons.
- Sadness, depression, or isolation.
- Changes in behavior or appearance.
- Talk of suicide and/or self-harm.
- Interest in violence.
- Talk of being bullied.
- Concerns over grades/attendance.
- Harassing others.
Schools should implement quarterly reminder training on what to look for and all persons on campus should be encouraged to make sure that if you see something, you say something.
How Can Districts or Schools Be More Prepared if Violence Does Strike?
It is important to know how to save your life if a shooter enters the building you are in.
- If you can, RUN - This requires you to have situational awareness wherever you go. Know where the exits are at all times. Exits can be doors OR windows, whatever is the best route to get out.
- If you can't run, HIDE - Look for a space with no windows, a lockable door, and, if possible, in a space that can be barricaded. YOU MUST REMAIN QUIET (silence your phone) because you are HIDING from someone with a gun who is trying to kill you.
- When all else fails, FIGHT - It's a fight for your life, so use anything and everything you can. This isn't child's play, be prepared to inflict lethal damage to the shooter. Stay committed and take the perpetrator down by any means necessary.
Notify the Police As Soon As Possible
Do you have your phone on you? Do you have cell reception in the building? Do you need to remain silent so as to not identify your location to the shooter?
These are all valid and real-world issues that people in emergencies face. How many of us work in buildings that never have good cell reception? How many students or school employees are even allowed to have their phones on them? Planning ahead to mitigate issues with first responder communication is a new tool for active shooter survival, and this is where ASR Alert Systems comes in.
ASR Alert Systems is a patented state-of-the-art critical incident response technology specializing in the field of alert notifications to Law Enforcement and First Responders in the event of an active shooter or other crisis. Our technology can be customized to any industry, building, or event. We deliver customer-specific technology unmatched by anyone. With the PUSH of A BUTTON, the life-saving critical information of your situation is sent DIRECTLY to police dispatch.
NOTE: When you call 911, you are generally reaching a call center who then has to call the local law enforcement department, who then has to communicate the situation to first responders.
The ASR system reaches dispatch and 911 simultaneously and also has the ability to text local officers on the ground - all at the same time, delivering all the information to everyone within seconds. We hold the patent on this technology.
RELATED: Think Like a Victim in a Crisis
Our critical incident response technology uses hard-mounted buttons, mobile pendants, and an optional mobile phone application to DIRECTLY communicate with first responders in the area to significantly decrease response times to an active threat or crisis situation.
These events are intense, and the stress they cause can make it almost impossible for some people to react quickly when their minds have frozen them into place while they try to figure out the best course of action. If an Act of Violence strikes, victims will experience at least one of or a range of the following:
- Loss of fine motor skills
- Lack of decision-making skills
- Visual impairments brought on by extreme stress
- Auditory impairments brought on by extreme stress
- Time distortion
- Situational awareness deficiencies
- Spacial distortions
- Time-lapse distortions
- Memory loss (even simple things like name and location)
- And much more
With ASR Threat Alert Systems, victims activate the alert system to summon emergency first responders and can then focus on seeking safety.
- No fumbling with a phone.
- Victims summon help without speaking and possibly giving up their location to the attacker.
- No need for fine motor skills for communication.
- Decision making can focus solely on seeking safety
- All with the PUSH OF A BUTTON
Having dedicated hardware that is readily accessible and easy to operate is KEY when it comes to life-saving tools. The methodology utilized to place the ASR Alert button stations is different for every client and/or organization. By having a dedicated button that is mounted in convenient locations (such as in classrooms or near office doors) or wearing a pendant, staff can activate an alert to staff and provide law enforcement with all of the necessary information to respond. By depressing an ASR Alert Button, Law Enforcement Dispatch knows the location name, address, location within the facility, and type of emergency.
ASR offers the best commercial critical incident response technology solution in the industry. Our reliable and redundant methods of alerting persons who are in danger, as well as providing the fastest notification to law enforcement by communicating directly with police dispatch, are not matched, and we hold the patent on this direct communication technology.
As schools across the nation are returning to full in-person learning, they must be reminded of how important it is to have an emergency response plan for the possibility of an active shooter incident occurring. This is especially important since the Covid-19 pandemic has caused many people to have emotional and mental trauma that in some, may accelerate to an act of violence on campus.
Although these incidents are sometimes referred to as high-severity/low-frequency events — meaning they cause extensive damage but don’t occur relatively often — there is no room for hesitation when it comes to training and being prepared for something like an active shooter situation.
It is no longer acceptable to assume it can never happen in a particular school or community. Let ASR show you how to prepare for the best possible outcome should an active shooter situation happen to you. SCHEDULE A VIRTUAL DEMONSTRATION FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION TODAY. We are confident you will see the benefits.
1 Some portions of this article are courtesy of Black Ops Tactical Consulting. Black Ops Tactical Consulting is a full-service consulting firm that performs safety and security risk assessments along with a full portfolio of other services. Please reach out to them if your school or business is in need of assistance.