The team provides an update on the crisis planning of the MPS | News, Sports, Jobs
MARSHALL — Student safety is a serious topic for Marshall Public Schools staff, and crisis training is an ongoing process for the school district, presenters said at Tuesday’s school board meeting.
“We hope that doesn’t happen, but we want to make sure we’re ready if it does,” said Amanda Grinager, co-chair of the district crisis committee.
Grinager and co-chair Mary Kay Thomas said crisis planning includes a district-wide committee, as well as training for school district staff and for students at different age levels.
“For 2022 and 2023, we have a few things going on and a few different goals, but we wanted to give you some general information about what’s happening in the district,” Thomas told school board members.
The MPS crisis committee has existed for at least 15 years. In addition to Grinager and Thomas, the district-wide committee includes the principals of each of the five MPS school buildings, school resource officer Sara VanLeeuwe, the MPS building and grounds supervisor, and a school nurse.
“The nursing position is very important on this committee. They add a lot to the conversation and they know a lot about medical emergencies,” Gringer said.
The district-wide committee meets every two months as a full group, as well as in smaller groups, Grinager said. In addition, there are crisis teams in each school building.
Some of the projects the district crisis committee is working on this year include updating district threat assessment plans and reunification plans for students and families.
“It’s a huge process, to reunite parents with students in an emergency,” Gringer said. In the past, she says, “We did it on a small scale, like there was a time when the buses came back in a snowstorm. It was really good practice.
The crisis committee also takes care of the planning of ALICE continuous training for MPS personnel. Thomas said ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. These five actions would be part of the response in a crisis like an intruder in a school building. However, these actions don’t have to be done in any set order, and school staff can adapt to different circumstances in a real-life emergency, Thomas said.
Thomas said the crisis committee was also working this year with SafeSchools training for MPS staff. The training included topics such as bullying and mandatory training for journalists on child abuse.
Grinager said student education is also part of crisis training at MPS.
“We really try to be age specific,” Gringer said. For example, emergency education and classroom discussions for students in grades K-4 are different than they would be for students in grades 7-12.
Keeping families informed of the process is also important, especially with younger students, Grinager and Thomas said.
“We really need to think about all of this, do the right thing with the kids at the right time and make sure everyone is aware of what’s going on, especially parents and guardians,” said Thomas.
“We really try to make sure that we prepare the kids, but also to drill like it’s real,” Gringer said. Each year, schools are required to conduct five evacuation drills, five containment drills and one severe weather drill. Fire drills are a type of fire drill, she explained.
“It’s a lot to try to fit into the school year”, Gringer said. “But they are important, and we know they are important.”
School board member Bill Swope asked how students had responded to the ALICE program.
“I think if you prepare them – we have stories that we read to them ahead of time, that’s part of the program – they handle it very well,” Gringer said.