Schools are among the safest places to be on a day-to-day basis, due to the strong commitment of educators, parents and our communities.
The South-Western City School District and its first responders strive to be proactive rather than reactive. Our priorities in an emergency situation are the safety of students and staff members and stabilizing the incident to prevent further disruption.
Through the School-Safety Training Grant, part of Ohio's House Bill 318, South-Western was able to secure funding to be used for enhancing school safety to safeguard our children. The district has been training and practicing its protocols and procedures in the event of an emergency -- looking at what we do well and at areas for improvement.
HB 318 funds have allowed the district to provide the following training opportunities to its staff and parents:
* Bringing in Scott Poland to work with both staff members (Youth Suicide: Contemporary Issues in Prevention/Intervention and Postvention in Schools) and parents (Parenting in a Challenging World: The Screen Age). Poland is a professor at the College of Psychology and is co-director of the Suicide and Violence Prevention Office at Nova Southeastern University.
* Sigma's Basic School Threat Assessment Training for staff at all district buildings, which provides foundational instruction in the fundamentals of school-threat assessment. Topics included: Understanding school violence and how prevention is possible; Overview of basic principles of school-threat assessment and the assessment process; Steps for investigating and evaluating threats and other concerning behavior; Strategies and resources for managing and monitoring individuals that may pose a threat of harm; and Information-sharing within Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and potential Title IX considerations.
* A dual training in district protocols for an active threat and bleed control provided teams from each building in the district with the proper use of bleed-control kits and a review of the district's protocols for active-threat scenarios. Participants gained understanding of and practice in the various protocols and actions they can take in an active-threat situation.
* The school district partnered with Grove City officials and first responders to plan and execute a joint reunification exercise to simulate the activities around the district's plan for family reunification after an event has taken place.
* On building retreat days in August, buildings will have the opportunity to train their staff in district protocols for active threats and bleed control.
* Bleed-control kits have been purchased for every classroom in the district.
This fall, the district will continue to share key elements of preparedness measures that can be taken by parents before, during and after an emergency to help keep their children safe and calm.
Monte Detterman is the director of business services for the South-Western City School District.