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Utah Schools Implement Safety Plan

Utah Schools Implement Safety Plan

Posted - Mar. 19, 2003 at 4:46 p.m.



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Sandra Yi reporting With the nation on the brink of war, Utah's largest school districts are preparing for potential threats at home.

They now have plans in place for student safety.

Utah's schools already have some type of plan in place for earthquakes, fires and other emergencies. Now they have to deal with a possible war and terrorism.

Melinda Colton/Spokesperson, Jordan School District: "WE ALREADY HAVE GREAT PLANS IN PLACE. ALL OF OUR SCHOOLS HAVE EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS PLANS. THIS IS SIMPLY TO ENHANCE WHAT WE'RE ALREADY DOING AND TO LET PARENTS KNOW WE TAKE SAFETY VERY SERIOUSLY."

The Jordan school district last night developed its own security plan for this uncertain time. The plan shows how the alert status will affect district procedures.

The current orange or high alert means the district will alert all of its staff and consider putting all out of state travel on hold.

If Utah goes to a red or severe alert, schools will be on lock down with only one open door. And student trips out of state will be canceled unless 80 percent of parents and students choose otherwise.

Melinda Colton/Spokesperson, Jordan School District: "WE FEEL LIKE WE PRACTICE SAFETY EVERY SINGLE DAY IN THIS DISTRICT, THAT STUDENT SAFETY IS OUR FOREMOST CONCERN. STUDENTS CAN'T LEARN IF THEY DON'T FEEL SAFE."

Student safety is also on the minds of administrators in the Granite School District, which has a similar emergency preparedness plan in place.

That plan has been updated to include terrorism.

Curt Hansen/Principal, Bonneville Jr. High School: "IF WE HAD A CONCERN ABOUT SOMETHING IN OUR AIR, THE ENVIRONMENT OR CHEMICALLY, WE ADJUSTED THE PLAN SO WE WOULD DO A LOCKDOWN. WE'D ALSO HAVE CUSTODIANS TURN OFF ANY KIND OF FANS OR NOT BRING ANYTHING FROM THE OUTSIDE IN, FOR EXAMPLE."

District administrators say preparing for anything is important but they want students to know that life does and will go on.

Mary Lane/Biology Teacher: "I THINK STUDENTS, ALL KIDS, EVERYBODY SHOULD GO ABOUT THEIR LIVES. I THINK THEY SHOULD BE AWARE OF THINGS AROUND THEM. BUT YOU HAVE TO LIVE YOUR LIFE. YOU CAN'T LIVE IN FEAR."

Schools are also ready to talk to students about their anxieties and concerns about the war. Some of them have relatives serving overseas. There are even students here from the Middle East.

The Salt Lake district is sending a memo to all of their teachers, reminding them to be sensitive about that.

Some districts are also encouraging elementary school teachers to keep media coverage out of their classrooms.

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