Schools districts work on universal response to traumatic incidents

Students evacuated from Oshkosh West High School after an officer-involved shooting. (WBAY Photo)
Students evacuated from Oshkosh West High School after an officer-involved shooting. (WBAY Photo)(WBAY)
Published: Feb. 20, 2020 at 4:11 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Whether it's an evacuation because of a gas leak or a lockdown due to a school threat, teachers, students, administrators, first responders and parents all need to be on the same page.

It's the reason why educators from across the state joined police and fire personnel in Oshkosh this week, learning how to implement one of the most widely-accepted response and reunification plans for any school incident.

It was just two months ago when an Oshkosh high school student brought a weapon to school and injured a school resource officer before being shot by that officer. The incident sent students scrambling for safety and left parents waiting out in the cold to be reunited with their kids.

"We want reunification to be as smooth and as quick as possible," says Sarah Poquette, principal at Perry Tipler Middle School in Oshkosh.

She adds, " When we have common language and a common protocol that we can use and share among parents, staff, law enforcement and students it will make the process run much smoother."

The incident in Oshkosh is just one example of when the standard response protocol and standard reunification method can be used.

"This is one that's been shown to be nationally effective. It's been adopted by more than 30,000 schools around the world or in the country and the Office of School Safety has been promoted this across the state," says Glenn Rehberg from the Wisconsin Office of School Safety.

Hundreds of educators, first responders and community members are learning the difference between, and response to, commands like lockout, lockdown, evacuate, and shelter.

Districts including Oshkosh and Omro already use some parts of the response protocol and reunification method.

The training gave the districts a deeper understanding of how it all works, information administrators can take back home and implement in their district and beyond.

Jay Jones, Superintendent for the School District of Omro, says, "When traumatic events affect one district oftentimes they affect surrounding districts as well, so if we could maybe have a little bit more of a regional understanding or maybe a regional agreement that we're going to use the same language when we respond to emergency and crisis type of events I think that would be helpful."