Community invited to learn about school safety protocols
Parents and community members will have the chance to learn more about school safety protocols and terms like "lockout" and "lockdown" during a public event next week.
The St. Helens School District is hosting a community-based speaking event on Tuesday, May 15, with John-Michael Keyes, executive director of the I Love U Guys Foundation. Keyes is expected to talk about how the school district uses a series of standard procedures developed by the foundation in various situations.
Both the St. Helens and Scappoose school districts follow standard response protocol offered through
the I Love U Guys Foundation.
"Our goal for the event is awareness and educating our community. Today's world can be scary if you focus on the headlines," St. Helens Superintendent Scot Stockwell stated in an email to the Spotlight. "We need our families to understand that we have a plan and we are doing everything we can to keep our children safe."
The program outlines procedures for lockouts, lockdowns, evacuations and sheltering.
Keyes and his wife, Ellen, founded the program in 2009 after their daughter, Emily, was killed in Colorado during a hostage situation at her high school in 2006. The name of the foundation comes from one of the last messages she was able to text her parents.
Following the tragedy, the Keyes set out to form an organization that would help standardize the vocabulary and procedures used by school districts, students and emergency responders in situations of compromised school safety.
By educating the community about the protocols and what each term means, it helps inform parents.
"As an example, lockouts are called in many districts a couple times a month as a safety precaution," Stockwell explained by email. "We might call a 'lockout' if there is a felony traffic stop within a mile of a school. We lock the doors, yet classes are conducted as usually because the danger is outside. If our parents don't understand what a 'lockout' is it can be unnerving, especially if the perception is every time a lockout is called we have a dangerous person on campus."
The entirety of the I Love U Guys program materials are available online for free.
Throughout the year, Keyes said he regularly attends about 80 conferences or training seminars for educators and administrators, and usually hosts a small handful of community events like the one planned at St. Helens.
The average turnout can vary, but Keyes said he often hears gratitude from those who attend the workshops. Many parents or community members simply want to know what procedures the schools follow, he explained.
The event will be held Tuesday, May 15, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the auditorium at St. Helens High School, 2375 Gable Road. It is open to everyone.