In what seems like a lifetime ago, I worked for CA’s Department School-aged Services doing aftercare, first at Waterloo Elementary, then, at Longfellow. While at Longfellow I attended a mandatory training on emergency response procedures. It was an entire evening after what was probably a long work day for everyone.
It was difficult to wrap our brains around the concept of what we would do if we had to go on lockdown or evacuate the school with children in our care and possibility be in charge of them for several days. I know I just wanted to deny it was even possible. Yes, I knew weather events could be unpredictable. And I knew we lived in a world where things like 9/11could happen. But, as the evening wore on with handouts and power point presentation slides, a part of me began to shut down.
Why are we doing this? When are we ever going to use this?
After the false alarm in Hawaii this past weekend, a parent asked the following question on Facebook:
Does anyone know what the school policies are in case something like what happened in Hawaii were to happen here? Or if the threat was real? Is there lockdown, do kids shelter in place, etc? Awful to think about but I didn’t realize I had no idea what would happen to my son if he was at school until reading all those terrifying stories coming out of HI
The memories of that evening workshop came flooding back into my consciousness. That was probably 15 years ago. You need to have a supply of water. You need to have backpacks you can take with you quickly with easily portable snacks and things to do. You need to know which of your children require medication. You need to have out of state phone numbers in case local contact numbers are disabled. You...
I can’t remember anymore.
I can say that I am reasonably certain that the school system has a plan. If CA has one, the schools definitely have plans and procedures in place. Each school most likely has a designated staff member assigned to making sure all materials are up to date and each school probably holds periodic trainings to review. For all I know, there is an additional training module to complete on this topic.
All of this is to say that: yes, there is a plan. And when your children are at school the teachers and staff and administrators will do everything to protect our children. We already know how many times they have put themselves in between students and shooters, for instance. As horrific as the thought of what almost happened in Hawaii is to us as parents, it is good to know there is a plan. Comfort. But small comfort at that.
Still, though: do we want to live in a country where these fears are forced to the forefront so often? What can we do to change that?