ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) – New teachers and staff members of the Parkway School District are undergoing active shooter training, ahead of the school year getting underway later this month.
Tier One Tactical, a local law enforcement training company, led the training of employees. Brian Schellman, an instructor, said interest from school districts in the region has grown exponentially since the shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
“This is our busy time of year, being that the school year is about to start, but we’ve seen interest like never before following the shooting in Uvalde,” he said. “We’ve been asked to conduct training as far away as Chicago.”
Rachel Money is entering her first year in the Parkway School District where she’ll teach at Parkway West High School. It’s her second year teaching and she took part in Friday’s training.
“I have kind of started rethinking my classroom layout, making sure it’s practical to move the big things in front of the door if we ever had to do that,” she said.
Money said talking about the reality of active shooter drills is slightly easier with high school-aged students, but said the topic is still sensitive.
“It’s a tough conversation, you don’t want to scare the students, but you want them to know they’re safe in your classroom and you’re someone who’s willing and able to help them,” she said.
On Friday, a group of about 200 employees took part in several different training scenarios, encompassing the tactics of evade, escape and engage. Groups took turns creating barricades in front of classroom doors while under the stress of hearing and seeing a “suspect” in the hallway. Instructors used cap guns to simulate gunfire.
“When someone came in and they had that starter pistol and they shoot it off and you’re not expecting it, it kind of puts you in a different mode,” said Chris Clark, who is entering his first year as principal at Highcroft Ride Elementary School.
“It’s sometimes the simple things like making sure our doors are locked,” he said. “So, making sure our doors are locked because so often we’re looking at convenience and just that one step can save someone’s life or the lives of others .”
Schools across the district take part in a couple of active shooter drills throughout the school year. Clark said ensuring his younger students understand the danger, while not being afraid, is paramount.
“The hope is by exposing them to it in a low-stakes, non-scary way, if we need to go into a lockdown or drill, they’re ready to make a move without being upset,” he said.
Schellman said on average, it takes about three minutes for police to respond to an active shooter call. In that time, choices can be made to keep people safe and stall until help arrives.
“They are empowered, they have options, there are things they can do to not only help themselves survive, but more importantly, the children that we as parents entrust them with,” he said.
According to the district, every middle and high school will soon be equipped with secure vestibules at the entrances of the buildings.
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