Olentangy Valley News

Olentangy's 'live' safety plan is updated often


In the wake of a school shooting that claimed the lives of 20 children and six elementary school staff members Friday, Dec. 14, in Newtown, Conn., Olentangy Local School District officials said procedures are in place to keep local students safe.

The district has a comprehensive safety plan, and teachers frequently complete drills to practice safety procedures, said Jennifer Iceman, workers' compensation safety coordinator for Olentangy schools.

"In light of the tragedy that happened in Connecticut, I think it's on everyone's mind," Iceman said. "We reassure the parents that we have a very active safety plan that is monitored, discussed and practiced regularly."

All elementary school doors are required to remain locked during school hours, Iceman said. Visitors are required to page the office via an intercom system by the front entrance and state their name and business before they are allowed inside.

At the district's middle schools and high schools, the front entrance is not locked during the school day, but all other entrances around the building remain locked from the outside at all times.

In case someone enters a building with intent to harm, the district has a lockdown procedure to keep students and staff as safe as possible, Iceman said.

She said the specifics of the district's procedure aren't released to the public as a safety precaution. Typically, such procedures direct teachers and students to lock classroom doors, move clear of doors and windows and remain quiet until help arrives.

Lockdown procedures have become nearly ubiquitous across the country since the 1999 school shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado.

Olentangy schools are prepared to enter three different levels of lockdown depending on the nature of the threat, Iceman said. The procedure is practiced several times each year, she said.

She added a police presence is maintained around the district during school days. A sheriff's deputy is present at each of the three high schools and officers monitor all buildings in the district.

The district's safety plan is reviewed and updated regularly, Iceman said. The last safety meeting was held the day of the Newtown shooting.

"It's an active, live document that we work with on a regular basis," Iceman said.

"We have a growing district so adjustments occasionally need to be made, and the police and fire departments are involved in drafting and creating the plan and reviewing any changes that are made."