Huntington Elementary School students take part in a drill in conjunction with the Emery County Sheriff’s Office.
Local law enforcement officials in Castle Country recently spoke on the rising issue of school shootings in the United States and how they work to prevent and handle such an instance from occurring in the area. Representatives from each school district were also contacted to discuss the issue.
Emery School District Superintendent Larry Davis took time to speak on the subject. He began by stating that each Emery County school has constructed an emergency preparedness plan, which is updated annually. This plan is vetted by the district office and corrections are made if necessary. The plan also includes a number of drills, some of which are required by the state and some that are in addition to those required.
“We work annually with the Emery County Sheriff’s Office, Utah Highway Patrol and other first responders in our county in conducting these drills,” Superintendent Davis explained.
Superintendent Davis continued that after each drill, there is a debriefing where the principals and adults involved gather with law enforcement and first responders to review the drill and look for weaknesses and strengths. He expressed that the plans are a work in progress that they try and update as times, needs, technology and innovations in school safety change.
Emery students go through continuous cycles of training for these emergency scenarios and, according to Davis, are indoctrinated at a young age. The evacuation plans include secondary sites particular to each school for the students to retreat to in the event of an active shooter, gas leak, fire and the like.
Superintendent Davis stressed that the schools and district put a lot of effort into the safety of the students and want them to feel comfortable when attending school. A full scope of training for mental outcomes is provided by the district as well as grief counseling and referrals to various counseling agencies. The district has a full-time social worker and a full-time elementary counselor.
Carbon School District Superintendent Lance Hatch also spoke on the concerns. Hatch explained that there are two types of drills that are conducted: lockdown or evacuation. According to Superintendent Hatch, the drills are conducted in all of the schools of the district.
Outside agencies are generally brought in for the active shooting drills such as first responders as members of the local law enforcement. Before the Florida shooting took place, the district was working to host a drill. This drill is scheduled to take place within the coming months at one of the Carbon schools.
Superintendent Hatch stated that medical personnel, law enforcement and other first responders often participate in these drills to better understand how they would also respond in an emergency situation.
Several students were also approached on the subject to inquire whether they feel safe at their respective schools. The students were questioned as to whether they believe their particular school takes steps to train students on emergency situations, such as an active shooter.
One student each from Emery High School and Lighthouse High School both stated that they feel safe at their school and believe that they take steps to ensure that training and guidance is conducted. When a Carbon High School and Pinnacle High School student were both approached, each stated they they felt safe at their school, however, more training would be appreciated.