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Crisis plans allow schools to cope with harsh reality

December 11, 2012
The Inter-Mountain

We would prefer not to think about terrible things happening at or near our schools, simply because we don't like to think about our children being in danger. Unfortunately, the world we live in today forces us to make plans to deal with the unthinkable.

Three times in the last year Randolph County schools have been forced to deal with unthinkable circumstances. Last week Coalton Elementary School was placed on lockdown after a woman was shot multiple times by her ex-husband, who was then shot and killed during a standoff with police.

The shooting did not take place at the school, but police responded to the scene near school grounds, leading to the lockdown.

Earlier this year, Elkins High School was placed on lockdown following the shooting of a state trooper near school grounds, and a student was fatally stabbed outside a Tygarts Valley High School football game.

In all three incidents, school officials responded to horrific circumstances with clear heads, following protocol and making sure students were safe. Those officials had also been involved in creating plans for their schools to follow during crisis situations, Superintendent of Schools Dr. James Phares said this week.

"Each one of the schools has to develop a crisis management plan" which then had to be learned and understood by both teachers and students, Phares said Monday.

"We've been fortunate in that all the schools have taken the crisis management plan seriously," Phares said. "It's a shame that we have to plan for events such as these, but this is the world we live in today."

The schools collaborated on the crisis management plans not only with the Randolph board office but also with the state Department of Education and the state School Building Authority.

"They work closely with us," Phares said. He added that the schools' ability to lock down has been greatly enhanced due to grants from the School Building Authority.

The Randolph school system has also worked with Regional Educational Service Agencies VII, which has created "a uniform emergency color code system," Phares said.

We applaud the schools' staffs and the county officials who put together the crisis management plans. We appreciate their level-headed willingness to confront dark possibilities that most of us would rather not.



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