Last week's gun attack in a Florida school has been on the minds of many as details of the attack have been widely reported. Safety and security of students have been part of the discussion including the question, what does Estevan's schools do in the event of an attack?
Lynn Little, Director of Education, South East Cornerstone Public School Division explained what the school divisions policies and procedures are.
"First and foremost we want to be proactive and preventative in nature, so we in Southeast area of the province, The South East Regional Threat Assesment Protocol was officially enacted and signed in August of 2015. That is a multidisciplinary partnership where we are committed to early intervention, violence prevention, high-risk assessment and intervention and support. Our goal being safer schools and communities."
Little added the protocol was signed by Police Services of Estevan and Weyburn, the Government of Saskatchewan including the Ministries of Social Services and Education, Saskatchewan Health Authority (then Sun Country Health Region), Holy Family Roman Catholic Separate School Division and SECPSD.
"Essentially it is a process where we proactively share information, advice and support, committed to ongoing staff development."
On Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, there was a two-day training course provided by Kevin Cameron from the Canadian Centre of Threat Assessment and Trauma Response which gave participants a greater understanding of what to do in the event of a situation.
"Staff is trained to recognise and respond to potential threats and all those threats are investigated thoroughly. Parents and staff are issued fair notice each Fall where we advise we will follow up on any threats that we've been made aware of," said Little.
The School Division has processes in place for different situations such as Hold-and-Secure and lockdown procedures. Hold-and-Secure procedures are where the school is locked to the outside but there is movement allowed within the building. Lockdown procedures are in place for when there is a danger to the students within the building.
SECPSD do not publish the steps of the procedures for safety reasons.
The school division practices the procedures with students in the schools.
"Sometimes when we are practising such things like the fire drill, when we are practising those, especially the younger children, they'll become frightened when we're having rehearsals. So it's important for the parents to help their children to understand that its practice for something that is not likely to happen but it is a piece we need to go through and be prepared for."
Little also asks for help from parents but also the public for help if there is any concern for the safety of students because of suspicious behaviour and to contact any of the organisations listed above to report it.
"We would far rather err on the side of over-reaction than under-reaction."