Do your children know what to do if a worst-case scenario were ever to happen at school? Do their parents?
Tredyffrin Easttown School District officials and police who met with hundreds of parents this week say they plan and train and drill for the worst case scenario. They hope something like the gun massacre in Newtown Connecticut never happens here, but they plan for it.
School officials gave T/E students a lot of credit for being smart, and responsive during past drills. More drills are planned in the coming months. Police plan to stage drills which will run first responders, school officials, and students through "worst case scenarios." The students are not told in advance and in most cases very few people know whether a drill is a practice or a real incident until after it is over.
Tredyffrin Police Superintendent Tony Giaimo told the audience that they key to having as good an outcome as possible comes down to police and staff training and cooperation from students and parents.
"Tell your children to remain as calm as you can in these instances," Giaimo told the crowd.
He summed up the best way for students who might suddenly find themselves in the middle of a dangerous situation in three steps:
- Remain Calm
- Listen to Directions
- Remain as quiet as possible.
School District officials added some important general instructions for parents.
What Should Parents Do:
Superintendent Dan Waters asks parents not to come to a school that might be in the middle of a dangerous incident. Waters and others on the panel acknowledged that not rushing to be with a child goes against parental instincts, but they say that more people crowding a school makes it much harder for first responders to both get to a building quickly and then evacuate it efficiently if needed.
Water says the district will make automated calls to affected families as soon as information is available. The district will also send emails and post emergency information as it is able on the district's website.
Students may be the first to spread the word.
In an era where almost every student carries a cell phone, district officials say kids are often the first ones to send a text to parents. In a bomb scare situation a few years ago, district officials say one of the complicating factors was that students, who were evacuated while bomb sniffing dogs searched the building, texted parents requesting them to bring a lunch.
While police and school officials say they are constantly preparing, drilling, and planning to respond to a "worst case" scenario, no two emergencies are ever exactly the same.
Officials at the meeting reminded parents that the district puts student safety first and that communicating with students and parents both inside and away from a school building during any emergency is a top priority-along with neutralizing whatever the threat might be.