JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Schools are preparing kids in the event of an active shooter as many districts head back to school this week. Parents are likely concerned about safety. 

After the Columbine shooting, Jefferson County School District says they have learned a lot and have stepped up safety, and have formed the DeAngelis foundation spearheaded by Columbine High School’s principal Frank DeAngelis during the shooting. The goal is to help train other school officials in the event of the unthinkable.

Jeff Peirson Executive Director of the Department of School Safety at Jeffco Public Schools said schools should adopt these minimal precautions.  

  • Don’t prop doors open
  • Lock exterior doors
  • Create one entrance in/out
  • Invest in secure vestibules 

In Jefferson County, students participate in school response protocol or SRP, which is essentially a drill for students if an incident occurs.

“We can practice those drills and we’ll know immediately if something were to happen. We know exactly what to do. The other really nice thing about the SRP is those skills that they’re developing through that muscle memory and the drills can be taken outside and they’re not just successful for school, they can be utilized at the mall, at church, and other areas,” said Jeff Pierson, Executive Director Department of School Safety JEFFCO Public Schools.  

Pierson said after Columbine they learned a lot, fortunately. He said some schools across the nation are catching up now which is why he is sharing this information.  

A unique training facility right here in Colorado prepares educators and security staff in the event of an active shooter.  

It’s a mix of classroom learning, actual drills, and virtual reality scenarios all in a mock school setting with classrooms and a gym. There are only a few training facilities like that in the country.  

Some mental health experts worry that exposing kids to these things could create fear and traumatize them before an event even occurs. 

Unlike the training done here, Peirson said during drills for students specifically, they don’t teach tactics or what to look for but just what the students themselves should do in an age-appropriate way.  

“The nice thing about that is we develop that protocol and kids go through from kindergarten to 12th grade — they’re hearing the same thing — it’s a very consistent message. It may be delivered a little bit differently at the elementary level than it would be when they get into middle school and high. But the message is the same, the expectations are the same and where they go and how they react to those situations are the same. So we felt that’s the most important and no, we don’t believe it’s providing, you know, tactics to the potential bad guy coming in, or the next shooter, but rather a way for us to react every single time something were to occur in our school,” said Pierson. 

At some elementary schools in Jefferson County, there is a program called Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students)  that works like a neighborhood watch. It’s a group of volunteers who act as positive influences or father figures in the schools and help increase a sense of security for students and staff.