by Elpidio Estioko
The Uvalde massacre served as a litmus test for public and private schools. School administrators should learn from it to prevent future killings. It should serve as a model for school safety and improved communication in dealing with emergencies.
What have we learned?
First, we need to modernize and maintain classroom facilities. Uvalde massacre reports showed that the locks and doors of the classrooms are defective, needed repairs, were poorly maintained, and had inferior locks. Schools need to modernize the buildings, especially the classrooms, to avoid trespassers and provide safety for the students and staff.
Second, school personnel should be trained on safety and responsible building maintenance. We also need to emphasize their important roles in school and emphasize responsibility areas. The Uvalde report said the staff was not sure whether he locked the rooms or didn’t do it at all. There was also a report that the doors needed to be fixed but never attended to. Responsibility should be emphasized in the training and preparedness of staff in case of emergencies, so we can safeguard the safety of staff and students.
Third, school administrators also need to come out with training for staff to avert the situation, deal with an active shooter, when to engage, and how to engage the shooter. In the Uvalde report, there was a 73-minute-gap before a response was made to engage the shooter which observers said if something were done within that period, it should have reduced the number of casualties… not 19 students and 2 teachers.
Fourth, there should be joint training on how to put up a temporary responsibility structure, especially when the school is not capable of taking the lead in the situation. This could be accomplished at a joint training with other agencies that usually respond to crises like this. It should be precise and needs quick decisions to address the situation on time. School staff and people responding to the event need to know their roles and need to know when and how to establish the temporary command structure. Emphasize situations when and how to assert responsibility. Again, had this been complied with, observers believe it should have minimized the number of victims.
Fifth, improve communication procedures to get the exact situation and location of the shooter. Radios should be working and wifi connections should be ensured to maintain proper and responsible communications needed. Personnel can act well and come up with strategies when communication is working systematically.
Lastly, training on bullying should be conducted, both for parents and staff, including students, to be able to avoid students from being bullied that could resort to violence. The Uvalde report showed that the shooter had been bullied in the past and must have accumulated rancor and hate which prompted him to be violent. Had he been advised, talked to, or his bullying issue addressed, he might not have resorted to violence. Parents also need to know how to deal with their children who are being bullied in school.
Had these happened, we could have prevented more deaths on campus. A lot of things are still hazy, so the police must continue to investigate the incident and find out what happened and come out with realistic solutions to the problem that will serve as a model for schools.
With the Uvalde incident, we hope that we can prevent similar incidents in the future!
ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and a multi-awarded journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email the author at email@example.com.
by Elpidio Estioko