Pleasant Valley introduces ‘Run, Hide, Fight’
This year, the Pleasant Valley School District is adopting a new active threat emergency protocol called “Run, Hide, Fight” to replace the former lockdown protocol.
This new procedure has been implemented by many school districts and is recommended by the Pennsylvania State Police, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Department of Justice.
Unlike the lockdown procedure, which only taught students to hide in an active threat emergency, the new protocol gives them a multiple of different options.
“The district is taking a very proactive approach — as are all the school districts — in training their children and empowering them to have choices in their safety,” Chief of Police Lynn Courtright said.
Depending on the situation, staff and students are trained to choose whether to evacuate the building, hide and barricade themselves, or as a last resort, defend themselves in whatever way possible.
Fighting isn’t about having a brawl, but about trying to keep the threat at a distance, Assistant Chief Robert Miller said.
This approach seeks to better respond to tragedies like the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, Courtright said. If the students in the library had tried to evacuate instead of hiding under tables, maybe more of them could have survived.
For example, if an active threat were to be in the front of the large high school building, students nearby might need to hide, but many in the back could safely evacuate, Assistant to Superintendent Josh Ziatyk said.
The school district trained faculty and staff in the new protocol over the summer. This month, the district is conducting the first of four student drills that will take place over the school year.
High school students had their first drill last week. They took the drill seriously and responded positively to it, Courtright said.
The training will be age-specific to the students. For elementary students especially, the verbage will be more delicate, PV Elementary principal Roger Pomposello said.
The feedback from school district staff and faculty and the community has been positive so far, according to Courtright and Ziatyk. Anyone in the community with questions or feedback about the new protocol is welcome to contact the district.
“The district’s number one priority is safety and security for all students and staff and faculty, and we constantly have discussion on how we can improve our security and our planning across the district,” Ziatyk said. “And I don’t believe we ever rest on our laurels when it comes to student safety.”
The district has safety measures in place, including police officers and security staff who patrol the buildings and are in contact with county law enforcement and other school districts.
“We’re entrusted with the lives of students and staff every day, and that’s something that we take very seriously,” Courtright said.
“In order for the children to learn and the teachers to teach, they have to feel safe,” she added.
The goal of the new training is not for students to feel afraid, but empowered, Courtright said.
“It is something that we discuss — it’s something that I think we need to discuss — and giving them just the tools and preparation, that’s what we’re looking to do,” Ziatyk said.