Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
BY OMAR ROMERO
Now more than ever, guns have become a polarizing issue in America. With mass shootings, crimes, suicide and violent acts committed; a disheartening aspect is that some take place at numerous school grounds across the country and sometimes in the Coachella Valley. In recent years, however, the measure have been taken to be better equip schools and protect students.
Jason Turletsky, a special education teacher who works at Shadow Hills High School, has been teaching for seven to eight years agreed to give his insight about school safety regarding students, especially those who suffer from disabilities.
“Student safety is the main priority. We have numerous drills over the course of the year to ensure safety. We have particular protocols that I am unsure if I should share or not, that enable us to protect the students and ourselves included,” said Turletsky.
Today many parents and students worry about going to school. With many shootings happening so frequently, students find themselves stressed and fearful of school. “Well, that starts with recognizing any signs of stress from the teachers or paraeducators so the student(s) will not devolve into hysteria. From my personal experience, I hope to recognize any signs so I may calm them before they get too out of hand,” said Turletsky, “But if I see another student in trouble or someone else, who is apart of my school, I’d make sure to comfort them and aid them to hopefully lower their stress levels. I’d also make sure to see if they are safe and any others that may be around them, and proceed from there.”
Schools are now implementing their own safety protocols and are often improving safety measures to keep students and staff safe. “I believe there is always room for improvement. I believe that everyone is open to new ideas and innovations about how we can update the protocol’s. What I find cool is that where I work, they are always trying to develop new concepts to keep the protocol updated, but that is just my personal perspective,” said Turletsky.
Some schools are also implementing ALICE; the active shooter response training. Maria Contreras, a kindergarten teacher at the Coachella Valley Unified School District, said the ALICE training course protocols are part of the regular teacher training guidelines. She also mentioned that the old procedure was just to turn off the lights, hide out of sight and make no noise, but ALICE teaches how to fight back in case the perpetrator forces themselves in the classroom. It also teaches how to detect a gunshot, how to disarm the criminal, encourages throwing objects and how to barricade the doors and windows.
“As a kindergarten teacher, it scares me and I hope I never experience a situation like this, but I am glad for the training because I feel confident that I will be able to protect my students,” said Contreras.
“The kids listen when I tell them. I teach them at a slow pace to not scare them and misinform them, but they take everything in. I tell them that if something happens to me, they have to get to safety and call the office and 911. Sometimes they laugh when I am talking about this, but I see that they are taking everything in and they know where all the emergency kits are, what is around the classroom and what they can use, and that they can protect themselves if someone wants to hurt them,”said Contreras.