Douglas Schools prep for new year with active shooter training

The late evening news on KEVN Black Hills Fox Sunday
Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 7:57 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Douglas School District is preparing for the beginning of the school year before the first ring of the school bell on August 22. And before that bell rings, teachers decorate their classrooms, learn new techniques, and practice for threatening situations.

According to Ed Weekly, in 2022 there have already been 27 school shootings and 83 people have been killed or injured.

During an emergency, a school will often go into lockdown people hiding and lights shutting off.

“The first training I was involved in was lockdown training. And there is a feeling of fear and lack of choices when you’re in a lockdown situation,” said Bud Gusso, executive director of operations for the Douglas School District.

But A.L.I.C.E gives people the choice of how to react, starting with Awareness, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate. It’s a method the Douglas School District has been using for years to prepare staff and students during an active shooting situation as opposed to a routine lockdown. Learning what to do in an emergency is a core part of training for educators.

“During an emergency situation, the brain all of a sudden just breaks down,” explained Gusso. “The more repetition we give, the more automatic the response is.”

“Planting that seed of ‘hey, this is what we should be doing in case of an emergency, look to your teachers, to help out,” says Sergeant Scott Sitzes, Pennington County Sheriff’s Office.

However, this training may hinder a student’s sole purpose of being at school: to learn.

“I can’t learn if I don’t know where the restroom is. I can’t learn if I don’t feel safe. I can’t learn if I don’t have a relationship with someone else,” Gusso said boldly. “So, to make sure that we communicate with people that we have a plan, and we care about their safety, eases the person’s ability to, to learn what we have for them academically.”

And once all of the school’s bases are covered, Gusso says it’s important to create a positive environment, because many threatening situations are premeditated.

“So developing positive, safe relationships with adults where everybody feels that they have a personal responsibility to protect and take care of one another,” he said. “And be kind to one another.”

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