Parents were made aware of the risks their children may encounter at school by the Uvalde school shooting. We visited the schools in Columbia County on Wednesday as they were practicing emergency response.
The focus of Wednesday’s drill was being prepared for the unexpected. An emergency drill is designed to bring as many agencies together as possible in the event of an unexpected emergency, such as an active shooter situation or a fire. Safety is a top concern for all parents as the new school year approaches. It’s a priority for parents, too, and Jackson wants to let them know.
Associate Superintendent Penny Jackson stated, “We realize it’s our goal not simply to educate them and love them but also to keep them safe.”
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They prepared as if there were gas leaks, but if there were to be an active shooting, they would not only have a strategy but also constantly rehearse it.
Additionally, she added, “knowing that not a single safety officer is unwilling to go directly to that target and safeguard our employees and our kids if danger comes our way at our school.
Every school will have one safety officer, and every high school will have two. About a dozen agencies would be involved in an emergency, and it takes practice for that kind of cooperation to go smoothly.
Shawn Granato, the Columbia County EMA director, advised: “You have to make sure that you let the sheriff’s office know that we’re evacuating and that you let the firefighters know that it’s not just one single organization taking care of it.”
Every practice, including the emergency drill on Wednesday, is followed by a follow-up meeting to discuss what worked and what needed to be improved.
He continued, “All the other agencies will do that separately, and as we put this piece together, we’ll conduct one of these again or other small simulations that everyone can be working together again.”
Open homes begin next Tuesday, and teachers in Columbia County begin work on Thursday. The county will use the lessons it learned on Wednesday to prepare for the coming year.
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