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Region 8 schools reevaluate safety measures

Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 6:42 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - At Marmaduke High School and many others across the country, teachers and students are prepared to go beyond just locking down to stay safe.

Matthew Pruitt is the resource officer for the Marmaduke School District and is also a certified instructor for ALICE - a comprehensive safety program that puts the control in the hands of students and teachers through situational training.

“Barricade the door, exit the building, if need be, if they got out in the hallway and encountered the suspect, this has training to teach them,” Pruitt said. “It’s not teaching them how to fight but how to counter the suspect to make entry to a classroom to lockdown or to continue their evacuation.”

Pruitt finds solely locking down to be a poor strategy for survival.

“You just felt defeated, right off the front end,” Pruitt said. “You feel like you have no options, you’re just waiting to get shot.”

So, ALICE encourages those in an active shooter situation to be proactive, like escaping campus if the coast is clear but also staying put and aware if the threat is close.

“What that does is it give our students, our faculty option-based strategies,” Pruitt said. “They get to pick based on what information they have on hand for the safest outcome.”

Meanwhile, Jonesboro Public Schools has a population several times that of Marmaduke, and emphasizes communication across campuses through radio systems as well as creating layers of safety through locks and instilling crisis plans.

“We have crisis plans in the buildings that cover not only active shooters but also bomb threats,” said William Cheatham, Assistant Superintendent of Jonesboro Public Schools.

Cheatham acknowledges no school can be 100% prepared for a school shooter situation but assures parents that the administration is constantly evaluating its safety protocols in order to improve with the times.

“I will say that it is something we talk about and we do look at, we do review. And we try to improve on it.”

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