School safety is a hot topic

By Chris Selle
Superintendent,
Meeker School District

MEEKER | With the continued focus on school safety, I would like to share with parents and community the basics of the Meeker School District’s emergency operations plan. The plan and supporting documents can be found at meeker.k12.co.us under the “Our District” tab. Annual review of the plan occurs and employees are continually updated and trained. Additionally, cooperative efforts to strengthen the plan occur with law enforcement, the Rio Blanco County Office of Emergency Management, and other applicable county agencies.
Each school regularly practices four common responses that occur in schools and are outlined in the emergency operations plan. These responses are:
– Lockout: A lockout occurs when a potential threat exists outside the school building. The perimeter of the building is secured, but operations continue as normal inside the building.
– Lockdown: A lockdown occurs when a threat is identified inside the building. Classroom doors are locked, lights are turned off, and teachers move students away from any line of sight into the classroom.
– Evacuation: An evacuation occurs when students need to be removed from the building. A fire inside the building is a typical example of this response.
– Shelter: Shelter is the least likely response to occur in our schools. This occurs when there is a need for students to take shelter, for example, due to a tornado.
In the event of an evacuation, reunification centers have been identified. Elementary students will proceed to the green 4-H building at the fairgrounds. Middle school students will proceed to Meeker High School. High School students will proceed to Meeker Elementary School. When a secondary evacuation site is needed, elementary, middle, and high school students will use the high school, elementary school, and 4-H building, respectively.
Parents are advised to avoid the schools and proceed directly to these designated reunification centers. Should an evacuation occur, parents will be notified of the evacuation and be reminded to proceed directly to the reunification center. Additionally, it is critical for parents to know that the school district will utilize a structured reunification process, also outlined in the emergency operations plan, to ensure students are released to appropriate adults.
Though not outlined in the emergency operations plan, the school district will likely apply unused funds the 15-16 school year to safety initiatives. Plans are not finalized for these funds. However, potential safety improvements include rekeyed locks, upgraded key FOBs for exterior doors, and other devices to improve building security and communications.
The preceding information is intended to provide insight into the proactive steps the school has taken to ensure student safety. It is truly our hope that we will never need to use the specifics of the emergency operations plan. However, because we are committed to the safety of our students, we know it is necessary to prepare for these types of situations. A safe environment is critical to ensure high levels of learning for all students.