CHS assembly will address active shooter situations

By on February 28, 2018

Cocalico High School will hold an assembly next month to help better prepare students in the case of an active shooter or other emergency.

Nathan Van Deusen, the district’ assistant to the superintendent for elementary education, explained the plans to members of the school board during a meeting Monday night.

It is part of an effort to improve communication and review practices following the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, FL.

“We feel like we’ve done a fairly good job… talking with our staff but we probably have an opportunity to do a better job with our students,” Van Deusen said. ‘We haven’t done anything this big, this formal before.”

The March 12 assembly will bring students together to learn about the “3 Es” they can use if an active shooter is present: escape first, enhance odds of survival by creating barricades or better hiding spaces, and engage the shooter if no other options exist.

“Probably nothing will ever happen here, but we’re about to send 250 kids (graduates) out into the world, where 90 or 85 percent of these mass shootings do happen,” Van Deusen said.

In addition to spending more time talking with students, the district continues to meet monthly with law enforcement from both the East Cocalico and Ephrata police departments. Van Deusen said during those meetings, teams review safety planning (which includes routine drills for fire, internal threats and external threats) and share information on students or other individuals whose behavior could be perceived as threatening.

“It’s something that’s on everybody’s minds right now,” Superintendent Ella Musser said.

Cocalico High School principal Chris Irvine said he will be sending a message about the assembly home with parents in coming days.

“I think all adults here are reflecting on what we’re doing as a school,” he said Tuesday morning. “It’s not just this time. It’s every single time. I think we need to make sure kids know-and they all get the same message from the same people-what to look for and how to respond.”

Irvine has talked to students about the Florida shooting, including some who would like to honor victims by taking part in a nationwide school walk-out March 14.

He is pushing students to share their feelings, to support each other and to turn to a trusted adult at school if they have any concerns or fears.

He said he would be one of the presenters at the assembly, along with law enforcement.”

“Our strength as a community is in our relationships,” Irvine said.

A similar school safety assembly will also likely be held at Cocalico Middle School at a later date, Van Deusen told the school board.

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