The deaths of 20 children at a Connecticut elementary school Friday morning led Oklahoma educators to reassure parents here that they are working to keep students safe.
“I don't think there's a perfect way to be prepared for it,” Norman Superintendent Joe Siano said. “Any time there's an incident like that, it gives you pause and reason to reflect.”
Evaluating procedures and training staff members must be a continuous process, Siano said.
“It's one of those situations where you never can do enough,” he said.
Police officers train every summer in one of the Norman schools, practicing what it would be like to track down a shooter, Siano said. Every principal has been through specialized training about how to react to a shooting.
“Do all those things prepare you for every event? No,” he said. “But I think they give you a sense of how to react.”
Midwest City-Del City Schools has a number of safety measures in place, school district spokeswoman Stacey Boyer said. The district employs off-duty police officers as security staff. All schools have visitor-management systems and secured doors. Staff and students go through lockdown and evacuation drills, and employees train for school shooter scenarios. A crisis-management team is ready at any time, and district officials are also looking into using security card access at schools, Boyer said.
Partnerships in place
Most school districts have partnerships with local law enforcement, fire departments and sheriff's offices, said Kathleen Kennedy of the Oklahoma School Public Relations Association and a spokeswoman for Oklahoma City Public Schools.
For example, Oklahoma City Public Schools has partnerships with the Oklahoma City Police Department and the Oklahoma County sheriff's office, Kennedy said.
Edmond Public Schools partners with the Edmond Police Department and the sheriff's office, as well, spokeswoman Susan Parks-Schlepp said. Edmond schools practice lockdown drills once a semester, she said.
The community must also be alert, Tulsa Superintendent Keith Ballard said in a statement.
“This event underscores the importance of being ever vigilant and being aware of any unusual or suspect behavior and reporting it to police immediately,” Ballard said.
Tulsa Public Schools, the school district's police officers and the Tulsa Police Department train often, and protocols for a variety of emergencies are in place, Ballard said.
“It is the top priority of all principals and site administrators to maintain a safe learning environment,” he said, “and we will do everything in our power to ensure our children and staff remain safe.”
It's one of those situations where you never can do enough.
Norman schools superintendent about preparing for school shootings