Different Schools Same Mission

Lyndon Educaiton ThumbnailLYNDON - Following school shootings across the country, Vermont schools have taken a look at how they keep their campus, faculty, and students safe. Governor Scott has asked the Vermont State Police to assess all schools in Vermont to make suggestions on how to improve school safety across the state.

Over the past year, schools across the state have had to test their response to campus threats. In April of 2017, Josiah Leach, made repeated threats online to the South Burlington High School. This past February, a threat made online referencing The Concord School put the Concord, Vermont school into lockdown. An investigation later revealed that the threat was for Concord, New Hampshire. Most recently, a former Fair Haven student was arrested for plotting a school shooting. Going as far as buying a weapon and ammunition.

Lyndon Institute and Lyndon Town School are schools with two different styles of campuses. Lyndon Institute has multiple buildings and more of an open campus, while Lyndon Town School has one main building, a playground, and a lower athletic field. Yet, both schools are required to have a detailed action plan for any situation that is specifically designed for their school.

"We have almost 30 on-campus spaces when you consider not only our buildings, but also areas like our greenhouse and athletic fields," said TJ Tanner, Director of Campus Safety at Lyndon Institute.
Lyndon Institute requires all visitors to check in at the reception area so the school is aware of who is visiting campus. They also participate in various drills for if there's a potentially dangerous visitor on campus. "Schedule allowing, we participate in monthly drills. We actually do enhanced lockdown drills as we are an ALICE school," said Tanner.

Lyndon Institute has been an ALICE school since 2016. ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate. According to the ALICE Training website, ALICE training teaches the skills needed to counter an attacker's ability to shoot accurately."
Besides ALICE Training, schools can also consult with the Vermont School Safety Center, which was created back in 2016. It is a collaboration between the Vermont Department of Public Safety and the Vermont Agency of Education. It helps preK-12 schools enhance their level of preparedness for all hazardous situations a school may face.

Schools across the state work closely with local first responders to go over emergency plans. "We work closely with local police, fire, and rescue organizations to practice situations, review our protocols, and revise them as needed," said Amy Gale, principal of the Lyndon Town School.

"We have safety protocols for our main building, playground area, and lower athletic fields," explained Gale.
The Lyndon Town School practices a monthly safety drill. "The Vermont Agency of Education has a schedule of the types of drills we should practice each month." The Agency of Education also sends potential scenarios to schools called "what if Wednesdays."
What if Wednesdays give a situation for a school's security team to think about and come up with the best response for that potential situation. "They help sharpen our skills as a school wide safety team." The Lyndon Town School also uses guidelines in the Vermont School Crisis Guide which outlines procedures to follow for a variety of situations. "The crisis guide provides an all-hazards approach to school emergency preparedness."

The prevention of the Fair Haven student from carrying out his plot was credited to a teen speaking up to law enforcement. Lyndon Institute's Director of Campus Safety said, "All are encouraged to bring any information of concern to administrative attention."
If someone does have a concern about a student at Lyndon Institute they can refer them to the school's Wellness Office or the Campus Life Office. "We have two licensed counselors on staff who work with our students. The office pulls together a team to determine how to provide the best support to a student and their family," said Tanner.

Training for teachers to stay alert for potential situations helps recognize students who may be at risk. Also, training makes a school as a whole more prepared to handle any situation. "Members of our school safety team attend trainings to help us stay up to date with the latest recommended safety procedures," said Gale.

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