24 August 2022
SHAKOPEE, Minn. — District and community leaders in Shakopee just recently wrapped up their last meeting of the summer on safety ahead of the first day of school.
For the past several years the district has implemented a national program called PREPaRE. It’s an acronym that stands for Prevent, Reaffirm, Evaluate, Provide and Examine.
The program is a community-wide collaborative effort involving not just teachers and district leaders but also the cooks, custodians, psychologists, social workers, as well as the Shakopee police and fire departments and more.
The leaders make up crisis teams that meet once a month and the goal is to come up with a game plan for all kinds of scenarios — not just the unthinkable tragedies like active shooters, but also the day-to-day things that might pop up like a gas leak, broken windows, securing a retention pond so kids don’t get too close when they’re outside at recess or identifying a student who may need mental support.
“It’s all about how do we handle the things that happen in school on a day-to-day basis,” said Jim Miklausich, assistant superintendent for Shakopee schools. “Most importantly =, how do we handle the psychological impact it has on kids, because we all know that mental health is one of the most critical factors facing our students and we’re in a world where we’re surrounded by things every single day that can impact that either positively or negatively and we as adults have the ability to make it a positive for kids.”
There are 10 buildings in the Shakopee school district and students will go through three or four during their academic career. Leaders said they’ve also worked to make sure plans are similar throughout all buildings to make it easier on teachers, students and staff to know what to do when something goes wrong.
Preparing for the unexpected is nothing new, but educators said there’s now much more of a focus on the psychological toll these events might have on students long after they happen.
“Our first objective is always their physical safety, but then there’s their psychological safety that comes after that and we need to make sure that our kids are feeling good about their school environment, that they’re feeling connected to adults and that they’re feeling like they have people they can talk to when events happen,” said Miklausich.
The Shakopee Police Department has regular safety audits to make sure buildings are as locked down as they can be.
The district said the plans they have now are updated regularly.
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Author: Pauleen Le