Securing our schools - ensuring student safety







La Junta High School shows security system protocol

“The safety of our students is our primary concern,” said La Junta Jr/Sr High School Principal Dan Nuschy. “Cameras are in all our buildings and outside, especially where we can monitor the students as they pass back and forth to the gym. All doors to this building are locked except the main entrance, and the same is true at the gym.” How can the staff at the office in the main building buzz in a person seeking entry to the gym? Both entrances are covered with cameras, so they can see who is standing outside the gym as well as who is standing outside their building door.

The high school was built with entries to each classroom from the outside, so all those doors are now locked. Asked about the teachers, Nuschy said they are asked to come and go by the main entry, also.

The safety team at the high school consists of Principal Dan Nuschy, Assistant Principal Scott Goheen, and Dean of Students Richard Romero. Romero was formerly with the La Junta Police Department and has worked his way up from Student Advocate to Dean of Students. He is working on his principal’s license. However, one couldn’t look for a better security person than one trained by law enforcement.

The program adopted by the Santa Fe Trail Board of Cooperative Services is Standard Response Protocol from “I Love U Guys” Foundation. More information may be found at http://loveuguys.org. In brief, there are five steps to safety in emergency situations:

When you hear it. Do it.

Lockdown! Locks, lights, out of sight. Students Move away from sight Maintain silence Do not open the door

Teacher Lock interior doors Turn out the lights Move away from sight Do not open the door Maintain silence Take attendance

Lockout! Secure the perimeter Students Return inside Business as usual

Teacher Bring everyone indoors Lock perimeter doors Increase situational awareness Business as usual Take attendance

Evacuate! to announced location Students Bring your phone Leave your stuff behind Follow instructions

Teacher Lead evacuation to location Take attendance Notify if missing, extra or injured students

Shelter! Hazard and safety strategy Students - for a tornado, evacuate to shelter area; for hazmat, seal the room; for earthquake, drop, cover and hold; for tsunami, get to higher ground (last two hazards unlikely in our location; wildfire more likely) Teacher - Lead safety strategy, take attendance.

Otero Junior College is designated as meeting point for all La Junta Schools. Records for matching children and parents will be stored there. Romero asked everyone to be patient of such an evacuation ever happens. The parents will have to fill out a form in order to get their children back and also bring identification.

Looking at the protocol, we can see that the recent incident with the La Junta Police Department was a Lockout, not a Lockdown. A drill will be held in the near future to be sure students and teachers understand the protocols, said Nuschy and Romero. This protocol is going into effect for the entire Santa Fe Trail BOCES. This includes East Otero, Swink, Rocky Ford, Las Animas, Wiley, and Cheraw. Manzanola, Fowler, and Crowley County are with the same BOCES as Pueblo, which probably has its own protocol.

“We have been working on this since November,” said Nuschy. “Richard and I will be meeting with Lewis Palmer High School on Friday. They have the best security system around here.” Always looking to update the system, the high school is ordering new and more versatile cameras with better panoramic coverage and better resolution from individual frames. They will need only 50 of the new cameras to cover the same areas as 60 of the present cameras.

This safety team is definitely on the job.