School shootings involve unimaginable horrors. That’s all the more reason for schools to adequately prepare to prevent such violence when possible and deal with such horrendous situations if they occur.
Cheryl Logan, the superintendent for Omaha Public Schools, has shown commendable leadership on this issue. She has made school safety one of her central priorities, and OPS recently completed its first School Safety Summit.
Hundreds of administrators, school safety staff and others participated. They went over procedures for dealing with such emergencies and practiced Stop the Bleed training.
A sensible preparation: adopting standard terms and practices so that all parties — teachers, staff, students and law enforcement — would have a common understanding.
Threat prevention received great attention. Participants discussed the need to properly monitor school facilities so visitors are identified promptly and no one can enter a facility without being seen. Another focus: communicating with students to understand when a young person may be experiencing stresses.
“We need to know when kids are acting different than normal. And it’s the relationships and the connections with those students that will help us do that,” says Jolene Palmer, director of school safety for the Nebraska Department of Education.
Complementing this OPS effort is the Douglas County Threat Advisory Team, consisting of representatives from law enforcement, school districts and mental health organizations. Sarpy County has had such a group since 2016.
This coordination and the adoption of proactive measures are vital in working to prevent the unspeakable from occurring and responding effectively to it if it does.