MUSTANG, Okla (KFOR) — With the start of school less than a month away for Mustang Schools, the district wanted to make sure each campus was prepared to keep kids safe and protected in the event of an active shooter situation. The training, which happened Wednesday, was planned well before the deadly shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas but the events of that day guided the Mustang Director of Safety to add additional measures for the upcoming year.
“All classroom doors will be locked and closed at all times now,” said Jennifer Newell, who was in law enforcement before she was hired by the district back in 2018.
Newell set up district-wide training with an instructor who brought in a “shot box” to emulate the sound of gunfire inside a school.
“It sounds like a book dropping on the floor,” one teacher said after the sound rang out.
The training was so many principals and teachers would recognize the sound if an active shooter ever showed up on campus, because most teachers have never even heard the noise in that environment.
The district, which follows the run, hide, fight philosophy, said this specific training was meant to show staff how to slow down an active shooter on campus and find the best routes to avoid danger until officers arrived.
“I think our mindset is always, how can we improve our safety plan?” said Jessika Hill, principal at Riverwood Elementary in Mustang. “What can we do different? What can we improve on?”
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Law enforcement from Oklahoma City PD, Canadian County, and Mustang Police and Fire also took part in the training.
Toby Blair is the principal at Mustang Central Middle School, which opened its doors four years ago.
“Safety was probably the first conversation that we had after I was hired and the buildings being constructed,” said Blair. “Virtually every aspect of construction of the building really stemmed around safety. That’s from the entry points, walking around the building, to everything.”
The training also taught principals and administrators how to protect students by guiding them away from the line of sight, open areas, or glass windows, and finding a classroom, shutting the door, and getting into a hidden area.
“We as a district can take it back to our teachers and make sure that we have everything in place that we need to ensure a safe environment for kids,” said Hill.
The district has 16 campuses from elementary to high school.
“No two buildings are the same,” said Blair. “We have to come in as a group of administrators and start trying to think through what this means for our building when we run into a new situation.”
Newell said the most important lesson she wanted the administration to learn during training was “the body will not go where the mind has never been” so putting staff in these scenarios can help better understand how to handle dangerous, active shooter situations.