Maryland District to Expand Active Shooter Training to Elementary Schools

Maryland District to Expand Active Shooter Training to Elementary Schools

“This is not so much a drill as it is a scenario-based discussion at an age appropriate level,” said Dr. Andy Zuckerman, chief operating officer for Montgomery County Public Schools.

Montgomery County Public Schools has been training students and staff for active shooter situations. According to school officials, the next step is to expand the training to elementary schools.

 “This is not so much a drill as it is a scenario-based discussion at an age appropriate level,” said Dr. Andy Zuckerman, chief operating officer for Montgomery County Public Schools.

Active shooter training has already taken place at the district’s high schools and middle schools. According to Zuckerman, the training is being customized to the different populations at different grade levels.

Zuckerman said that with older kids, the district’s training plan includes focusing on how students should react to particular situations. With elementary school students, training will encourage them to follow the guidance of their teachers and other school staff in an emergency.

Ed Clark, director of school safety and security at MCPS, said the training is discussion-based and will not include unannounced drills. Work is currently underway to develop appropriate training for elementary school children.

“We need to do that in an age appropriate way where we are not scaring students or parents, or raising the level of anxiety,” Clark said.

Per rules set by the Maryland Safe to Learn Act of 2018, the district has hired a mental health coordinator to work closely with Clark on organizing and refining training.

“The mental health aspect of this cannot be overstated,” Zuckerman said.

Zuckerman said the training includes helping students, staff and school resource officers identify others who may need help. It’s difficult to get students to feel comfortable enough to talk to an adult about a friend who may be in crisis, but Zuckerman said students are talking to them.

“And often times that may not result in violence in the school but really be about the psychological and emotional support we need to provide for a child,” Zuckerman said.

In addition to the training, Montgomery County Public Schools has implemented a new visitor management system and is updating access control systems on its campuses. Cameras are also being installed at the elementary schools.

About the Author

Jessica Davis is the Associate Content Editor for 1105 Media.