The importance of planning, practice and attention to small details to keep schools safe were highlighted Monday by John-Michael Keyes, who started the I Love U Guys Foundation in 2006 after his daughter, Emily, was killed in a school shooting.
Keyes led a workshop Monday hosted by Durango School District 9-R at the DoubleTree Hotel attended by 140 school officials from around the Four Corners, including the Aztec, Bayfield and Dolores school districts and the San Juan Board of Cooperative Educational Services.
“The question arose: Can we do anything to prevent or minimize this? The answer turned out to be ‘yes,’” Keyes said, as school officials began searching for ways to provide more robust school security and safety after the Columbine High School shooting in 1999.
Keyes said the I Love U Guys Foundation partnered with the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado Boulder to develop protocols and methods to put in place. The protocols allow school officials to train with first-responders in ways to increase security and minimize violence if a school is targeted by a mass shooter.
The practices have been distributed free through the foundation’s Standard Response Protocol and the Standard Reunification Method in thousands of schools across the country.
The programs have created common methodologies for school lockdowns, lockouts and evacuations and for reuniting parents and guardians with their children after a school shooting. Standardization of plans allows for school officials, police, EMTs and other first-responders to work cooperatively from one playbook in the event of a school shooting.
Keyes compared planning, preparing and practicing for school shootings to requiring sprinkler systems in schools and developing building codes to prevent or minimize damage from school fires.
“The idea is that threat assessment, remediation and intervention work,” he said.
Preparation and paying attention to even the smallest details will help should schools need to respond to an active shooter or other emergencies, Keyes said.
He said a principal instilled a mindset of “parking to leave” at a school in which employees backed into parking spaces when they arrived in the morning so they didn’t have to leave by placing their vehicles in reverse at the end of the day, when statistics showed more students are hit by cars in parking lots.
“I want you to be ready for and prepared and part of that is paying attention to small actions, part of that is being in the parking-to-leave mindset,” he said.