Dear Everett Public Schools community members:
On March 20, approximately 1,600 district staff at 26 different schools immersed themselves in a three-hour role-play responding to a school emergency.
The role play was an armed intruder inside a school building. Our law enforcement partners – many of whom were first responders during the Marysville Pilchuck High School tragedy – worked side-by-side with district leaders to design and deliver Friday’s tabletop simulation. With students dismissed for the day, school teams worked in small groups of 10-12, so each staff member could assume an active role. Larger schools had a dozen or more simulations active at the same time with different staff acting as principal, teacher, custodian, parent volunteer, office staff, counselor or other school personnel or community visitor.
Staff used what they know of their own school emergency plans and applied advice and guidance of nearly 40 volunteer facilitators. They ended the scenario with questions and suggestions for next steps with our safety and emergency partners – all interested in keeping our schools safe places in which to learn and grow.
After the event, browsing through dozens of photos taken during the action, a powerful, repeated image remains in my mind. It is of tabletop-sized site maps of our schools dotted with mocked-up ambulances, police cars, school buses, media trucks, and parent vehicles. The day’s simulation was as “real” as I hope ever happens in any school.
Nearly 40 Everett and Mill Creek police, Sheriff’s deputies, fire, medical, FEMA, emergency management staff – and even the U.S. Navy – spent the day rotating through schools to facilitate the intense, hands-on learning and problem-solving simulations.
Thank you to those first responders for this service to our community, and for helping make our schools safer and more secure. These experiences on March 20 will carry us forward to future training events. I am extraordinarily grateful to all involved, and am looking forward to building on what we learned and experienced.