Protecting students from school shooters means sheltering young children from the world’s horrors while ensuring they are prepared for an emergency. This fragile balance will fall upon the shoulders of Louise ISD officials as they tackle school safety training this semester.
In 2015, the district adopted the Guardian approach, which authorizes selected school staff to carry concealed weapons during school hours, in place of a school resource officer. This year, Superintendent Garth Oliver will oversee emergency preparedness training and education.
“It’s the next step of training the entire district,” Oliver said. “It’s one of the facets of the Guardian program, so the guardians have people who know what to do, so that now the guardian’s can feel confident in doing their part.”
Louise ISD will be holding a community meeting to inform parents on the upcoming training and the Guardian program.
“We’re going to start training the kids (on) what to do, how to get in, how to immediately cover the windows, get the doors locked, barricade the doors, get to a safer wall in the room,” Oliver said.
Oliver plans to send home permission forms to parents before beginning emergency training this semester. “Just because I believe that you’re safer if you’re practiced and knowledgeable, doesn’t mean that every parent thinks that,” Oliver said.
Teachers will be required to participate in the training.
The identities of and number of LISD guardians is confidential. Members volunteered or Oliver invited them to be a Guardian based on factors such as how they handle stress.
“Safety is an illusion regardless of whether you’re armed or not armed,” Oliver said. “It’s just another layer. Carrying a weapon is just one layer. One tool.”
LISD’s guardian members received training most recently from Strategos International, a Missouri company that trains schools, law enforcement, the U.S. military and other organizations.
They’re currently working with local law enforcement to practice handling guns safely and shooting.
“We’re working with our (Wharton County) Sheriff’s Department, but also the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department and the ISD to have a program that we’re well trained and we’re knowledgeable and we’ve got appropriate, legitimate training,” Oliver said.
Safety measures such as security cameras, bullet-proof glass and fencing surrounding school buildings are employed by the district. Each building on campus only has one point of entry for visitors, which is monitored by school officials.
“Are you safer and feel safer with having more knowledge of how to mitigate the threat?” Oliver said. “Or are you safer and feel safer having no idea what to do?”
LISD’s school safety meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 30 at the Louise High School cafeteria, 408 Second Louise.