With school safety on the minds of concerned parents, the Mayflower School District gathered the community together for an informational meeting Monday night.
Facilitator and district employee John Pipkins said after what happened in Florida recently and the recent spike in school threats across the state, the district thought it would be a good idea to bring together concerned parties to review and discuss Mayflower’s current crisis plan.
Pipkins said school administrators, maintenance and facilities director and the director of transportation were on hand to talk about current safety measures and school board members, parents and local government officials were encouraged to add input and suggestions.
“We just felt we needed to have a meeting with our community to reassure them we are taking these concerns seriously,” he said.
Pipkins said Dalton Elliott, a school resource officer, spoke bluntly about the increase in the number of school shootings.
“It’s just an unbelievable number,” Pipkins said.
He said Elliott reiterated the importance of communicating concerns with the school and local police about potential dangerous situations.
“It’s better to air on the side of caution than to ignore something,” Pipkins said.
During the meeting, officials discussed the district’s crisis plan but chose not to offer it up in detail for safety reasons. The district did share details on the various ways it trains students for different scenarios.
Pipkins said per state law, the schools practice monthly fire drills, two tornado drills, two bus evacuation drills and one active killer drill a year.
He said years ago, possibly after the Sandy Hook tragedy, the district began talking about various situations it could prepare the campus community for and discussed three of those last night.
Pipkins said with the first one, the district teaches students about what to do during a lockdown, including barricading themselves in whatever room they can and taking cover.
In the second active killer situation, he said, students learn to run to a designated location.
The last one, the fight scenario, Pipkins said involves students picking up objects — whatever they can find to cause harm — as a collective and throwing it at the perpetrator to confuse them.
“Hopefully that is the last resort,” he said.
Pipkins said parents were thankful the district shared drill specifics with them because they were concerned about what that would look like for their children.
“We have to give our kids everything they need to protect themselves,” he said.
During the safety meeting, Pipkins said the administration also answered questions about parent notification in the case of one of these events.
He said in emergency situations, the district has a crisis team in place and a designated person to send out the notification to parents through the school reach system but it would only do so when the situation was contained and students were safe.
Pipkins said he knows that a parent’s gut reaction is to leap into action and get to the schools quickly but, especially because of the small area for first responders, asked parents not to do that.
The main goal and first priority, he said, was to the safety of the students. He said, for the most part, parents understood that.
Pipkins said the district also heard good suggestions and feedback from attendees including implementing parent volunteers at building entrances, the use of blinds and strengthening door security and the possibility of moving to photo ID badges. All of which, he said, would be taken back to the administration.
“I don’t think it could’ve gone better,” Pipkins said. “It was an overwhelming success."