A new solution for keeping kids safe on campus has entered the market. School Specialty launched SSI Guardian, a new curriculum-based security initiative designed to keep kids safe in the event of an active shooter.
The launch began this year with two programs: active shooter safe school and school bus driver threat awareness for K-12. The initial training is done with four-hour seminars that focus on awareness. The courses are for all adults employed at a school and teach them, first of all, how to recognize someone who may be inclined to harm others. SSI Guardian courses will eventually be available for higher education and health care.
The programs offer a curriculum developed from consultation from experts and best practices in the field. Each program will be designed to fit within a district or school’s existing standards and protocols. The instructors include professionals from the FBI, U.S. Secret Service, military, Department of State and academia. The curriculum is part of a course called Emergency Operations Management, being taught at Southern Methodist University by Frank Trapp.
“It’s for every adult in the school because at the end of the day you don’t know who’s going to be the first person to come into contact with an active shooter,” said School Specialty CEO Joe Yorio. “It can be a janitor, school nurse, a librarian. It’s a seminar that focusses on awareness; what are the signs to look for that a potential shooter displays?”
Yorio said the seminars were developed from research involving homeland security and Secret Service professionals trained to spot suspicious behavior and act accordingly. “The instructors teach how to look at certain character traits, change in mood, change in habits that could potentially be identified as a person who could be having issues or is a candidate to move toward this path,” Yorio said.
Another part of the training teaches administrators what to do when violence breaks out. “Are you going to lock the doors, do you know your evacuation routes, can you barricade the doors?” Yorio said. “It systematically goes through the decisions you make, such as whether to hunker down or get out of the school.”
The bus portion is similar to the schools safety portion and gives bus drivers the tools and knowledge to know what to look for and how to act.
SSI will also provide consulting services, helping schools and school districts conduct vulnerability assessments for school grounds, emergency planning, contingency planning and safe school design.
“Most of it is common sense,” Yorio said, “but it might help give you an extra second to get your students out of a situation.”