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NEWS | Oct. 16, 2019

School violence exercise emphasizes training, collaboration

By Beverly Joyner 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Joint Base Langley-Eustis inspection and emergency response teams, in partnership with Newport News Public Schools conducted a school violence exercise at Fort Eustis’ General Stanford Elementary School Oct. 8.


Team members held their tabletop exercise in the school library where they met to review and clarify their roles and responsibilities in managing responses during potential emergency situations.


“We use a scripted scenario to evaluate and validate training and knowledge of the Integrated Defense Plan, Emergency Management Plan and All Hazards School Crisis Management Plan,” said Randall Renaud, exercise program manager, 633rd Air Base Wing Inspector General. “The scenario allows us to evaluate the logistics and relationships between Newport News school personnel and installation first responders, and command and control personnel.”


Renaud described the complexities involved in communicating information between parents and guardians, installation and school personnel should a school violence incident occur. Renaud said the relationship between JBLE and Newport News Public Schools is crucial to effective communication in order to minimize panic and frustration among stakeholders.


According to Amelia Hunt, General Stanford Elementary School principal and school staff members have access to a comprehensive school crisis and emergency response plan that provides guidance to teachers and other school employees on how to respond to a variety of emergencies.


“This is my very first year at General Stanford and it’s the most substantial training that I have participated in with my staff since I became an administrator,” said Hunt. “I am appreciative of this collaborative effort which will reveal any gaps in our knowledge. This is going to be a real time of learning for us and our new teachers.”


When discussing the school system’s threat assessment teams, Hunt said General Stanford’s crisis response team members are the same individuals responsible for threat assessment strategies. School staff are trained to monitor the behavior of children and adults, while looking for signs of instability or challenge that could lead to situations of a violent nature, she added. 


Throughout the years a number of changes have been made to help prevent or mitigate school violence, Hunt explained. Examples include entrance buzzers, visual identification cameras, doors that lock automatically, and bus evacuation and lockdown drills.


“We are going to take every precaution,” said Hunt. “We are going to do everything we can to ensure that we have made this space as safe as it can possible be for our children, families and staff.”


To assist JBLE community members in understanding how school violence exercises help to prepare school personnel and first responders for emergencies, Renaud said the primary purpose of any inspection or exercise is to improve, and preparation and training are key to ensure personnel are ready to react in a given situation.