SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — School shootings, like the shooting at Robb Elementary in Texas, weigh heavy on the mind of every school staff member and student.
No matter the amount of planning and prevention no school can be 100% protected against these violent acts.
There have been 14 mass shootings at U.S. schools since the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado. 169 victims, including many students.
The recent shooting in Texas has prompted discussions in Siouxland about school safety.
Becky Eckhardt is the student services director for the South Sioux City School District. She works with the school staff and local law enforcement to establish safety protocols. She said the recent tragedy encourages staff members to plan ahead for school safety.
“We have begun looking at different trainings that we can do both for our District Safety Committee and we have multiple of those throughout the summer scheduled and planned but we also will include every building in a variety of drills,” said Eckhardt.
Eckhardt said the school will practice planned and unplanned rills and they’ll work with local law enforcement to conduct these safety measures.
Sioux City Community School District Superintendent Paul Gausman said that it is frustrating to have had this conversation so many times.
“This is not the type of topic I want our staff and students to have to think about, but they do, and that falls on us as the leaders of the district, to prepare an environment for them,” said Gausman.
For Gausman and colleagues like MMCRU Superintendant Dan Barkel, safety inside school walls is always top of mind and so is the knowledge that no amount of preparation makes a school 100% safe.
“Even though we do all kinds of ALICE training [Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate], active shooter training, nevertheless, you never know when or where this might happen,” said Barkel.
School districts large and small now rely on cameras and special secure entries, but both administrators know safety comes from more than just physical barriers.
As the nation puts a spotlight on mental health, Barkel said educators must do the same thing, building relationships with those they work alongside every day.
“For us, as a small school, to make sure we really know all of our students,” Barkel said. “So that if there are issues that threaten our students, we can identify them the best way we can.”
“You know, we’re providing more mental health services than we have ever provided in history, I’m not talking about Sioux City, I’m talking about the nation. It’s such a priority to us, it must be done and our staff handles it well,” Gausman said.
Conversations and communication are needed in and outside the school buildings.