MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — It’s a necessity to be prepared for anything. That is the unfortunate truth according to Adam Henkins, the Monongalia County Schools Director of Safe, Supportive Schools and Athletics.
“This is a situation that we hope never happens in Mon. County Schools, but it’s getting closer and closer to Mon. County Schools.”
A 14-year-old Barbour County boy is charged with wanton endangerment, making terroristic threats and possessing a firearm on school premises after police said he held 27 classmates and a teacher hostage Tuesday.
Henkins said crisis response training for educators is evolving.
“Ten years ago, if an active shooter was in your school, they taught you into the classroom, lock the door and get into a corner and huddle with everyone and keep as quiet as possible,” Henkins explained. “They are totally changing from that now. They’re not saying lockdown is bad. They’re saying don’t sit and wait to be a sitting duck. You need to worry about trying to find an evacuation route.”
Continuing education for Monongalia County teachers has been through the ALICE Training Institute. ALICE is an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. The program is specifically designed to prepare educators for active shooter situations on campus.
The school’s 1,600 employees have been encouraged to spread as much valuable information as possible school wide in an emergency. That could be through an intercom system, walkie talkies, cell phones and even email.
“Say specifically what the shooter is wearing, who the shooter might be. Is it male or female? What are they wearing? Where are they located? In that process, that allows that teacher, those students, that classroom to decide whether there should be a lockdown, a counter or an evacuation-type process,” Henkins explained.
Each school year, Henkins said teachers are expected to discuss response plans with students.
“We don’t want to have parents alarmed that we think our school systems aren’t safe. They are safe. But, it takes all of us to make sure they stay safe.”
Exterior doors, with the exception of front doors, at Monongalia County schools must remain locked.
All three county high schools have armed school resource officers on campus.
Within the last three years, police and FBI representatives have also presented county educators information through the Operation Safe School Initiatives.
Drills have gone so far as to help teacher differentiate the sounds made by specific guns when fired.