SALT LAKE CITY – The state of Utah is updating the rules governing how public schools prepare for emergency situations such as a shooting.
Martell Menlove, the state superintendent of Public Instruction, says the State Board of Education has approved a rule requiring schools to have more drills preparing for violent situations.
“Part of what we’re asking schools to do is to have drills on active shooter drills, violence drills, lockdown drills, those type of things,” he explains.
Menlove says under the previous rule, schools could choose to have half of their fire drills dedicated to preparing for an earthquake or a violent situation.
He points out the new rule, expected to go into effect by spring, mandates that half of all school drills must focus on preparing for something other than a fire.
Menlove says the rash of school shootings around the U.S. has caused Utah educators to put a lot more focus on preparing students.
He says preventing a school shooting could be as simple as a student reporting suspicious activity or threats made by a classmate.
“Part of the training is to encourage students to report any type of situation that might be a threat to the safety of students in our schools,” he explains.
Menlove says elementary schools hold drills monthly and secondary schools drill about four times per year.
He also says there is more attention being paid to school access to better monitor who enters and exits school property.