Safety training, funding for Waterloo schools

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On April 28, the Waterloo School District hosted its second district-wide safety drill, which has been expanded to include intruder drills.

Though the specifics of the drill were not revealed for safety reasons, school superintendent Jim Helton said the drill was a progression from the one that took place in the fall.

“Our faculty and staff have done an outstanding job of embracing the need for additional training,” he said. “If we do not talk about it with our students and prepare for a dangerous intruder within the school, we are simply living as potential victims; a frank and honest fact.”

Helton said the first responders who assisted with facilitating the drill were “very pleased” with the drills and the progression of preparedness compared to last year.

Gardner Elementary principal Dawn Ivers said the drill process included securing students in classrooms, followed by an evacuation process.

Staff and students were asked to listen for instructions as the drill occurred, to provide realism to the procedure.

“All present during the drill did an amazing job of remaining calm, following directions, and ensuring everyone’s safety,” she said. “In the future, the intruder drill will be a regularly scheduled drill for our schools (just like fire, tornado, etc.).”

All buildings in the district have the elements of locked external doors, one point-of-view entry visitor’s entry that must be accessed through a camera/intercom system, videotape, visitor management system to verify guests, alarms, evacuation areas, parent notification systems and relationships with our first responders.

The school district was also just awarded a safety grant of $67,536 from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency for security shatter-resistant film at all of the buildings’ entrances and areas of concern.

In a press release sent out Friday, Governor Pat Quinn expressed his concern for the safety of Illinois schools.

“Nothing is more important in Illinois than keeping our schools safe,” Quinn said. “These projects will strengthen security at main entry points, providing school personnel with critical moments to alert law enforcement, activate plans to protect students and save lives.”

Grant awards across the state  total $25 million to enhance security at 448 public elementary and secondary school districts, community colleges and state universities in Illinois.

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