Students must now prepare for bomb threats, shooters
Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Paiva Weed (D - Dist. 13, Jamestown, Newport) joined Governor Donald Carcieri and public safety and education officials at a press conference last week to announce the implementation of new safety precautions being taken at schools as well as the accomplishments of the Rhode Island School Safety Steering Committee.
The new precautions, the result of legislation (2007-S-1053) sponsored by Paiva Weed and Senate Minority Leader Dennis L. Algiere (R - Dist. 38, Charlestown, Westerly), include two evacuation drills and two lockdown drills among the 15 emergency drills that schools had already been required to undertake. An evacuation drill prepares schools for dealing with a bomb scare, for example. A lockdown would be used in the event of a school shooter. Doors to classrooms would be locked, and students and teachers moved to the floor along the innermost wall, out of sight of windows and doors.
"Schools are challenged by different types of dangers today than they faced a generation ago. The Rhode Island School Safety Steering Committee is providing training sessions around the state to facilitate the implementation of procedures that will better prepare students and educators to handle these diverse threats," said Paiva Weed.
Police and fire officials onthe state and local levels worked together with educators and school administrators from across the state as well as officials from the Department of Education and the Department of Health to develop recommendations for ensuring student safety. The Steering Committee was formed in 2006, and hosted a conference in June 2007 to roll out changes and announce training sessions.
Training has been offered, and remains available, to prepare school officials for working with students and staff on evacuation and lockdown procedures.
"I applaud the police and fire officials, school administrators and educators, and other public safety officials who served on the Steering Committee and have since made training available to school personnel across the state," said Paiva Weed. "In addition to determining what types of preparation are necessary, they have done a wonderful job preparing those responsible for implementing the new safety procedures understand what is needed and how to prepare school personnel and students."
The legislation was signed into law on July 3, 2007. It is now Public Law Chapter No. 234.