SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — It’s a topic many parents are concerned about, school safety. And the Syracuse City School District is investing in a project to make sure students feel safe walking the hallways. The district is partnering with a professor from SUNY Oswego to test and implement something called the Standard Response Protocol, beginning last summer.
They’ve been going through a series of surveys and lockdown drills as part of their training.
“We were looking to gather data to make sure that what we’re doing is effective. We were looking to gather data to make sure that these students are learning what to do in an emergency,” said Thomas Ristoff, the Director of Public Safety for the Syracuse City School District.
That’s when they called in Dr. Jacklyn Schildkraut–a professor at SUNY Oswego, but also a mass shooting expert. She’s helping them learn the protocol, conducting research along the way. They’ve found that living in an urban area, students in Syracuse generally feel the most safe while at school. But getting to and from the classroom is where they’re uncomfortable.
“They certainly felt safe in their environments but you know there’s a difference between safety and preparedness and we saw that there was a feeling of lack of preparedness because they hadn’t had any training prior to us coming in,” Dr. Schildkraut said.
“We’re training an action, we’re removing some of the anxiety that comes with those actions for a lot of school-aged children, and a lot of our staff,” Ristoff said.
The schools focusing mainly on lockdown drills but touching base on other scenarios like lockout, evacuate, shelter, and hold. All the while testing them on the percentage of doors locked, lights out, and kids in hiding. Though they’ll never get it perfect, Dr. Schilkraut said there’s a big difference in what the district knows now vs. a year ago.
“Not every threat is a school shooting, but everything requires us to do our very best on our very worst day and i think we’re giving them the tools to be able to do that,” Schildkraut said.
Right now, only the Syracuse City School District is working with Dr. Schildkraut for the standard response training. However, other districts in Central New York are considering a similar plan. The full results from this year’s project will be released within the next couple of weeks.