A school shooting is a scenario no one wants to think of — let alone experience — but it's clear there is no hiding from the possibility anymore. 

As a result, local school districts have begun rolling out a new school safety initiative called the Standard Response Protocol with backing from Safer Schools Coalition of Kern.

SRP is a response enhancement for critical incidents — weather events, fires, accidents, intruders and other threats — designed to provide clear, consistent language and actions among all staff, students and first responders. It is not a replacement for any school safety plan or protocol, however.

Kern High School District rolled out the protocol over the summer and other school districts in the county are in various stages of implementation.

"When a kid is exposed to (SRP) in elementary school and then they’re trained on it every year and they age out and go to middle school in maybe a different district, they’re accustomed to using this language," explained Robert Meszaros, chair of Safer Schools Coalition of Kern. The ultimate goal is that over time, every student, educator and first responder will know SRP.

There are four specific actions that can be performed during an incident: lockout, lockdown, evacuate and shelter. These actions are represented by an icon and are communicated over the public address system, followed by a specific directive. For example, “Lockdown! Locks, lights, out of sight,” or "Lockout! Get inside, lock outside doors.”

At KHSD, law enforcement and administrators began training over the summer, while teachers and students received training through a combination of videos, powerpoints and lectures at the start of the school year, explained KHSD Chief of Police Ed Komin.

It's not a radical departure from the safety protocol already in place at the district, Komin said, but rather a more simplified version.

The biggest difference is the distinction between a lockout and lockdown. In a lockout, there is a potential threat off campus, such as criminal or police activity in a nearby neighborhood. The police department and school security staff will respond and make sure the potential threat does not come on campus. In classrooms, teachers will close and lock the door and continue class as usual.

"We might delay the changing of classes and going to lunch, but the educational process continues," Komin said.

A lockdown, in contrast, is called only when there is an immediate, serious hazard on campus that disrupts the educational process. The lockdown protocol requires locking the classroom door, turning off the lights, placing students out of sight of any windows and remaining quiet.

"It would be an overreaction if there’s a threat near the campus to call it a lockdown," Komin said. "I’m excited because I do believe this will make us much safer and be able to respond immediately to the threat."

KHSD students believe the safety trainings were beneficial and important in order for them to feel prepared for any type of emergency.

"I feel that it’s important that we are trained on these action items because we see repeatedly that these tragedies can happen anywhere. Obviously I think that we shouldn’t be in this position, but that shows a problem in our society which administrators are trying to prevent," said Rishabh Rik Bose, a senior at Stockdale High School. "I think the safety protocols were engineered carefully with everyone’s safety in mind, and I feel that if something bad were to happen, following rules will keep me in safety, as rules usually do."

His mother, Piyali, also feels "very safe knowing that my kids are now being prepared and will have the idea of how to protect themselves."

The Bakersfield City School District will hold a districtwide training Thursday. 

It comes at an appropriate time after a man under the influence of a substance walked onto Jefferson Elementary School's campus last school year, explained Irma Cervantes Lancaster, district public information officer. Bakersfield Police Department was called to handle the situation.

"It just shows how easy it was for them to get on campus and the importance of ensuring that doors are closed," she said.

Panama-Buena Vista, Greenfield, Fairfax and Delano Union Elementary and other school districts are exploring implementing SRP.

Talks for increased safety came after the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Kern County Superintendent of Schools officials, school districts, BPD, city and county fire departments, Emergency Medical Services/Kern County Public Health Services Department and other community partners formed the Safer Schools Coalition of Kern in spring 2018 in order share best practices and come up with initiatives for school safety. 

But at the end of the day, the new protocol and trainings are a regular part of ensuring and improving safety at schools — the safest place a child can be during the day, according to Meszaros.

"Just because we’re doing all of this, it doesn’t need to stress people out," Meszaros said. "We’re doing it to be prepared. The odds of it being used for an active shooter is very, very rare, but we need to be ready if it does happen."

Developed by the “I Love U Guys” Foundation, SRP is made available at no cost to schools and organizations.

For more information about the SRP, visit www.kern.org/safer-schools.

Ema Sasic can be reached at 661-395-7392. Follow her on Twitter: @ema_sasic.

(8) comments

REMUDA

School "Safety" begins at home . . . with respect for others, oneself, the law, educators and the system's prime reason for its 'existence':

That is >>> Learning to think critically and creatively in order to communicate clearly and become productive members of society.

Period.

REMUDA

"2. Early public schools in the United States did not focus on academics like math or reading. Instead they taught the virtues of family, religion, and community.".

"9. The idea of a progressive education, educating the child to reach his full potential and actively promoting and participating in a democratic society, began in the late 1800s and became widespread by the 1930s. John Dewey was the founder of this movement."

(https://www.americanboard.org/blog/11-facts-about-the-history-of-education-in-america/)

Copper

How bout common sense gun control and better access to mental health treatment

Gene Pool Chlorinator

How is your "Common Sense Gun Control" going to keep people from being killed? Still waiting for anyone to expound on that one...

Those committed to violence will find a way; most guns used in crimes are obtained illegally (stolen or purchased on the street), so criminals could care less about gun control...

Bill Peloquin

This needs to be seriously addressed. Do not arm teachers.

ISpy

Our previous educational system made sure that kids were trained in following orders and sticking to grueling routines, preparing them for a lifetime of rote mundanity toward producing money for the oligarchy. Now there is more of the same, plus fear. Great.

WorriedAboutSafety

If any of you parents think your kids go to safe KHSD schools, you are woefully misinformed. The KHSD "police" department consists of a bunch of old retired cops (50+ yrs). Their Chief never managed anything meaningful in his career with the Sheriffs Office. The "security guards" mainly consist of housewives and old folks who don't have a clue. School Administrators. On going training is a joke. Teachers are afraid to unlock their doors on many campuses.

DesertSon

Actually, Worried, it isn’t so much “afraid to unlock their doors” as it is “directed to keep their doors locked.” It’s pro-active, and there is no good justification for a classroom to have an “open-door policy.” That said, I taught in public schools for over 25 years, and could count on two hands the number of teachers I would trust to carry around my students.

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