Students and teachers across the nation Wednesday morning are gearing up for massive school walkouts protesting for stricter gun control laws to be passed.
School safety has been the topic of national conversation. The walkouts are happening in the wake of the school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, which involved a 19-year-old killing 17 people with an AR-15 style rifle.
Schools across the country have been receiving questions pertaining to their security safety and how they operate when dire situations occur, including schools in the Sacramento region. ABC10 talked with two different school districts on how they prepare, what programs are offered for students, and how parents are notified of incidents.
ELK GROVE UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
School security and safety can be sensitive information, but Xanthi Pinkerton, Director of Communications for the Elk Grove Unified School District (EGUSD), discussed some of the regulations.
No EGUSD schools have metal detectors on campus, and California law prohibits teachers from carrying guns, so no teachers are armed.
Pinkerton says all schools in their district update their safety plan annually and hold lockdown drills at least two times during the school year -- more can be allowed if the principal deems it's necessary.
The two types of lockdown drills are a "shelter in place" and regular lockdown. The difference between the two is a shelter in place is for a natural hazard and lessons could continue, while a regular lockdown involves a threat on campus (like someone with a gun).
Monterey Trail High School held their last lockdown drill on Sep. 14, 2017, and is required to do at least one more by the end of the year. Pleasant Grove High School had one in fall 2017 and recently did their second drill on Feb. 22.
If there's an active situation, parents want to be informed. Pinkerton agrees with this but wants to make sure parents understand the district's priorities.
"It all depends on what the emergency and the situation is for parents," said Pinkerton. "First priority is student safety. We do communicate as fast as we can [to parents] when we have accurate information."
The district is broken into nine regions and all of the regions possess security officers, which are usually stationed at the high schools.
Also, not only are drills being done to keep students informed, but the district knows that the mental health of their students is important, too. Schools are provided with psychologists, counselors and mental health therapists to help assist students with discussions, like the Florida shooting, according to Pinkerton.
Monterey Trail holds a Unity Day four times a year. It allows students to opportunity to make connections with other students and staff while learning to get more involved. Pleasant Grove has its four "core school values" -- Rigor, Relevance, Relationships and Respect -- and the school holds many different events like Unity Day, PG Voice, equity training and more to help provide a voice to students.
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SAN JUAN UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
Schools in the San Juan Unified School District hold lockdown drills typically one to two times every year, according to Trent Allen, Senior Director of Community Relations for the district.
During lockdown scenarios, Allen says typically doors are to be immediately locked, blinds closed and the lights are turned off. Again, parents want to be informed and the SJUSD has a variety of ways to keep parents up-to-date with information regarding an incident at one of the schools.
"The primary method to communicate with parents/guardians in an emergency situation is through our notification system that allows us to rapidly send voice calls, text messages, emails and push notifications," said Allen. "Additionally, we update the website and social media with information."
No SJUSD schools have metal detectors, but they do have school counselors and offer other services, including staffed psychologists and therapists, similar to Elk Grove.
The district does have two local law enforcement officers assigned to support schools, one at Mesa Verde High School and the other at San Juan High School. Those officers also support the elementary and middle schools to each high school campus.
These officers do carry weapons and are not to be confused with unarmed campus monitors, who are charged with providing student supervision, according to Allen.
He wants everyone to know that they play a role in keeping schools safe and it's vital for students, parents, and others to report any concerning behavior or actions to the school or law enforcement agency.
ABC10 reached out to other local school districts, but have not heard back yet.